• Germany edition
 
Germany compromises over Turkey EU bid
Photo: DPA

Germany compromises over Turkey EU bid

Published: 25 Jun 2013 07:06 GMT+02:00
Updated: 25 Jun 2013 07:06 GMT+02:00

Because of Ankara's massive crackdown on a wave of anti-government protests, Berlin last week blocked a plan to reopen Turkey-EU membership negotiations that were to take place in Brussels on Wednesday after a three-year break.

The row over the issue dominated talks between the bloc's 27 foreign ministers in Luxembourg, where only Austria and the Netherlands rallied to the side of Germany, which finally said it would seek a compromise.

But German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle stressed that Berlin was trapped between a rock and a hard place.

"On the one hand we cannot act as if nothing had happened in the last days," he said. "On the other hand we have to look for a strategy that satisfies the EU's long-term interests.

Westerwelle said he had submitted a compromise proposal to Ireland, which currently holds the rotating EU presidency, "that reflects both aspects."

A diplomat said the German idea was to offer Turkey a political agreement this week to open a new phase in its accession negotiations with the 27-nation

bloc but set back the date to begin the talks in the autumn.

Last week's sudden German stance triggered an immediate surge in tensions between Ankara and Berlin, with sharp words exchanged and each calling in the other's ambassador for explanations.

At stake is an EU offer to Turkey to agree to open a new policy "chapter" - or set of rules and regulations - in Ankara's eight-year negotiation process to win membership of the bloc.

Turkey began accession talks in 2005 but so far has agreed with the EU only one of 35 chapters needed to gain entry into the EU club.

Westerwelle said he had had talks with Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu at the weekend and that he hoped to use the Luxembourg talks "to find a common position with our European partners."

Reopening Turkey's long-stalled bid for membership by discussing Chapter 22 on regional policy requires unanimity between the 27 member states, and as is often the case the ministers went into the meeting poles apart.

"Germany is working on a compromise concerning the opening of Chapter 22. Westerwelle is in close contact with numerous European partners and Turkey on the margins of the Council (of ministers)," a German government source said.

Asked whether the EU should change policy after the Turkish government's harsh crackdown against protesters, Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt said: "No. The European Union is a strategic entity that pursues strategic policies. We are not guided by the short-term things now and then."

"Accession is one of the most successful, one of the most profoundly important policies of the EU that has brought peace and stability to the continent. It is not something subject to short-term whims," he added.

Luxembourg's Jean Asselborn said it was vital for the EU to maintain relations with Turkey while clearly criticising the crackdown on the protests.

"We need to think less about the government than about the Turkish people," he said. "Millions of people in Turkey hope that the EU continues to put pressure" on the government and therefore talks should not be blocked.

EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said on arrival at the talks that "engagement is a better option."

AFP/jlb

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Germany lags in permits for non-EU migrants
Photo: DPA

Germany lags in permits for non-EU migrants

Germany gave out fewer residency permits last year per head to non-EU citizens than any other major European economy. READ  

Hamburg volunteers test Ebola vaccine
Hamburg's UKE has helped lead the fight against Ebola. Photo: DPA

Hamburg volunteers test Ebola vaccine

Volunteers have rolled up their sleeves for the first phase of the human trial for an Ebola vaccine at the Hamburg-Eppendorf University Clinic (UKE), it was announced on Wednesday evening. READ  

US adds voice to chorus telling Germany to spend
Jacob Lew and Sigmar Gabriel. Photo: DPA

US adds voice to chorus telling Germany to spend

US Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew, in a meeting on Wednesday with German Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel, called on Germany to boost public spending to stimulate stuttering eurozone growth, the Treasury said. READ  

Man leaps with son, 5, from third-floor window
Schönhauser Allee in Berlin. Photo: DPA

Man leaps with son, 5, from third-floor window

A father and his young son are in serious condition after police and firefighters were called to their home in northeast Berlin early on Wednesday morning. READ  

North braces for storms and floods
Cars waiting to be loaded onto the ferry at Bremerhaven, Lower Saxony, were caught in flooding on Wendnesday. Photo: DPA

North braces for storms and floods

UPDATE: The remnants of hurricane Gonzalo have drifted across the Atlantic and are now threatening North German cities with flooding, forecasters warned on Wednesday. The news followed a night of accidents caused by heavy winds in southern Germany. READ  

Kerry's challenge to Russia at Berlin Wall
US Secretary of State John Kerry at the Berlin Wall. Photo: DPA

Kerry's challenge to Russia at Berlin Wall

US Secretary of State John Kerry visited remnants of the Berlin Wall on Wednesday and warned that East-West tensions again threaten freedom in Europe, 25 years after its collapse. READ  

Satirist lives the dream on EU gravy train
Sonneborn in the EU Parliament. Photo: DPA

Satirist lives the dream on EU gravy train

Martin Sonneborn can’t believe his luck. The German comedian, leader of the political party “Die Partei”, managed to get elected to the European Parliament in May, and has found himself overwhelmed with fresh material. READ  

The Local List
Which high school cliche is your city?
Photo: DPA/Shutterstock

Which high school cliche is your city?

This week's Local List takes a leap of imagination and finds German cities fit perfectly into high school cliche categories. Who's the class clown? Who's the nerd? READ  

'German' hand grenades paraded by Isis in Syria
A screen grab from a jihadist video showing the grenades. Photo: DPA

'German' hand grenades paraded by Isis in Syria

The German military was on Wednesday investigating reports that Bundeswehr hand grenades have fallen into the hands of the Islamic State (Isis) terrorist group after a video appearing to show captured weapons surfaced on the Internet. READ  

Indian schools drop German teaching
Indian pupils enrolled in German classes prepare for Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier's visit to their school. Photo: DPA

Indian schools drop German teaching

Thousands of children in India will no longer be taught German after the country's education ministry allowed a contract to lapse. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Photo: DPA/Shutterstock
Gallery
Which high school cliche is your German city?
Photo: DPA
Gallery
Storm hits southern Germany
Sponsored Article
An international school unlike any other : School on the Rhine
Photo: Fitzpatrick family
Society
'We still don't know what happened to Matthew'
Photo: Mariana Schroeder
Munich
Special Report: Hope and chaos at Munich's refugee shelters
Photo: DPA
Berlin
Robbers blow up Berlin bank
Photo: DPA
Culture
Can you top our history quiz leaderboard?
Photo: Facebook
Society
German motorcycle gang joins Isis fight
Photo: DPA
Politics
UKIP ‘seeks EU pact’ with German satirical party
Photo: DPA
Gallery
PHOTOS: World's biggest erotic fair opens in Berlin
Photo: DPA/Shutterstock
Gallery
11 things Germans are afraid of...
Photo: DPA
Gallery
The ten richest people in Germany
Photo: DPA
Business & Money
JobTalk: All you need to know about working in Germany
National
Share news tips with The Local Germany
Sponsored Article
Bilingual education from nursery to graduation at Phorms
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se

3,510
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd