• Germany's news in English

Merkel visits Turkey amid broad disagreements

AFP/The Local · 28 Mar 2010, 13:59

Published: 28 Mar 2010 13:59 GMT+02:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

The rift between the two countries has been exposed during the run-up to the visit, on two levels, with arguments about integration of Turks into Germany, as well as Merkel’s opposition to Turkey’s entry to the EU.

"This is going to be a difficult visit; some statements may even overshadow bilateral relations," Semih Idiz, a foreign affairs commentator from the Milliyet newspaper told AFP

In remarks published in Turkish newspapers last Wednesday, Merkel said she would insist on a "privileged partnership" for Turkey rather than EU membership, during her visit.

"There are intertwined relations between Turkey and the EU. There are 35 chapters in the (membership) talks. I am confident that 27-28 of them can be taken up and this will really mean a privileged partnership," she was quoted as saying by Milliyet.

She also stressed that Turkey's accession negotiations remained "open-ended", without guaranteeing an ultimate membership for Turkey.

Turkey immediately retorted that there was no alternative to EU accession.

"Our position is clear... There is no option for Turkey other than full membership," foreign ministry spokesman Burak Ozugergin said.

Since starting membership talks in 2005, Turkey has succeeded in opening only 12 of the chapters that candidates are required to complete in order to join the bloc.

The process has also been slowed by Ankara's sluggish pace of reform and its refusal to allow EU-member Cyprus - a country it does not recognise - access to its ports under a customs union accord with the Union.

Apart from Germany, France is also another vocal opponent of Turkey's EU aspirations. The two EU heavyweights believe that a large, relatively poor country with a mainly Muslim 71 million-strong population has no place in Europe.

"The Chancellor is very committed to the fact that Europe does not lose its character," a source close to the German government said.

Commentator Idiz underlined that Merkel was more restrained than Sarkozy when it comes to opposing Turkey's EU drive because, he said, "she is relying on Sarkozy to bar Turkey."

Another contentious issue between the two countries is the question of integrating or assimilating the estimated 3.5 million Turkish immigrants and their descendants in Germany, the country's largest ethnic minority and the world's largest Turkish diaspora.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who in 2008 caused a row by saying he was against the assimilation of Turkish immigrants in Germany, called for the opening of Turkish secondary schools in Germany, in remarks published last Thursday.

"In Turkey, we have German high schools - why shouldn't there be Turkish high schools in Germany?" he told the German weekly Die Zeit, also complaining that Germany did not allow dual citizenship.

While in Germany two weeks ago Erdogan warned Turks at a meeting in Cologne to preserve their national identity, and called the idea of assimilation a crime against humanity.

Story continues below…

Merkel hit back on Friday at the proposal for Turkish schools, saying: "I do not think this brings us forward, as I think that Turkish children and pupils should go to German schools."

During her visit, Merkel will also discuss Iran, another point of contention, with Erdogan opposing new sanctions, in a clear contradiction to Merkel’s position.

In 2008, bilateral trade amounted to almost €25 billion while more than 4,000 German companies operate in Turkey or have partnerships there.

On what will be her second visit to Turkey after a first trip in 2006, Merkel will holds talks with Erdogan and President Abdullah Gul in Ankara on Monday before flying to Istanbul.

There she will tour the city's historic sites on Tuesday and attend a business forum before leaving the country.

AFP/The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

17:08 March 28, 2010 by Prufrock2010
"The idea of assimilation is a crime against humanity?"

That just about says it all, doesn't it?

If you like Greece's contribution to the EU, you'll LOVE Turkey's.
18:43 March 28, 2010 by Kayak
Merkel fying to Turkey.

Now that demands a second comment!
18:46 March 28, 2010 by peschvogel
She will tell Turkey:

1. Please join the Euro quickly, we need stable partners

2. Germany will not allow dual citizenship for Turks in Germany because Germany needs the headcount.

3. If you dont meet these demands, we will start expelling all Turks when Geert Wilders becomes Prime Minister (next week).
20:07 March 28, 2010 by wenddiver
How many days after her membership in the EU, before all of Muslim Turkey gets to move to the new Muslim Germany?????? What can the Turks do to get the regular Fermans to assimulate into the new Muslim Germany.
23:15 March 28, 2010 by peschvogel
I think it should be immediate. They have German schools in Turkei and Turkish schools in Germany. I think they need more Mosque's in Germany. But hurry before Geert Wilders comes through..
23:43 March 28, 2010 by Logic Guy
Well, it appears that Bundeskanzlerin Merkel is changing.

Perhaps she now realizes that she must fully commit to making the necessary, difficult decisions.

It would be an extraordinary thing, if she were to become the first leader of a major European nation to actually listen to the opinoins of their citizens.
00:34 March 29, 2010 by Prufrock2010
Logic Guy:

That 250 IQ gag was a good one. I almost thought you were serious for a minute.
07:22 March 29, 2010 by wenddiver
Tell her to stop pointing at him, a Judge gaave me three days for intimidation for jabbing my finger in a guys lapel, while talking loudly to him.
12:55 March 29, 2010 by michael4096
Given that turkey needs germany much more than the other way, they have a strange way of trying to make friends
17:43 March 29, 2010 by peschvogel
And why exactly does Turkei need Germany more? Again, spwewing crap with no statitstics nor facts...Just blah, blah, blah...
18:51 March 29, 2010 by michael4096

not what I say, what turkey says - it says it wants to join the eu so it needs germany - wake up!
22:46 March 29, 2010 by peschvogel

You should have a filter on your keyboard that thinks before you type because "thinking" doesnt seem to be on eof your strong points. I am vivdly opposed to read any more of your goobly gah without no substance. Los

14:14 March 30, 2010 by Der Grenadier aus Aachen
Until Turkey can meet all the requirements of EU membership, this shouldn't be an issue.

No offense to the Turkish people, but Turkey, as it stands, is a giant, poverty-stricken, radical-infested, backwater, banana republic. Just because they have a few car factories and such, built by foreign investment, does not make them sufficiently wealthy to join the EU.


Not even close.
Today's headlines
Ex-chancellor Schröder to mediate in supermarket row
Gerhard Schröder. Photo: DPA

Can Gerhard Schröder bring an end to the Kaiser's Tengelmann saga?

Outrage over ruling on 'brutal' gang rape of teen girl
The now convicted suspects, sitting in court in Hamburg. Photo: DPA.

A 14-year-old girl was gang-raped and left partially clothed and unconscious in freezing temperatures. Now prosecutors are appealing the sentences for the young men found guilty, most of whom will not set foot in jail.

Dozens of Turkish diplomats apply for asylum in Germany
Demonstrators holding a giant Turkish flag protest against the attempted coup in Istanbul in July. Photo: DPA.

Since the failed putsch attempt in Turkey in July, Germany has received 35 asylum applications from people with Turkish diplomatic passports, the Interior Ministry confirmed on Wednesday.

Hertha Berlin fan club criticised for 'anti-gay banner'
Hertha BSC beat FC Cologne 2-1. Photo: DPA

A 50 metre fan banner apparently mocking the idea of gay adoption has overshadowed Hertha BSC's win in the Bundesliga.

Germany stalls Chinese takeover of tech firm Aixtron
Aixtron headquarters in Herzogenrath. Photo: DPA

The German government on Monday said it had withdrawn approval for a Chinese firm to acquire Aixtron, a supplier to the semiconductor industry, amid growing unease over Chinese investment in German companies.

Politicians call for tough sentences for 'killer clowns'
File photo: DPA.

Now that the so-called 'killer clown' craze has spread from the US to Germany, elected officials are drawing a hard line against such "pranks", with some threatening offenders with jail time of up to a year.

Nearly one in ten Germans are severely disabled
Photo: DPA

New figures reveal that 9.3 percent of the German population last year were considered severely disabled.

The Local List
Germany's top 10 most surreal sites to visit
The Upside-Down House, in Mecklenburg–Western Pomerania. Photo: Olaf Meister / Wikimedia Commons

From upside-down houses on Baltic islands to a fairy-tale castle near the Austrian border, Germany is a treasure trove of the extraordinary.

Bavarian critics back Merkel for Chancellor again
Photo: DPA

The Christian Social Union (CSU) have long delayed backing Angela Merkel as their candidate for Chancellor in next year's general election. But now key leaders are supporting her publicly.

Four taken to hospital after hotel toilet bursts into flames
File photo: DPA.

Four guests at a Nuremberg hotel were taken to hospital due to smoke inhalation early Monday morning after a toilet there burst into flames.

10 things you never knew about socialist East Germany
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
How Germans fell in love with America's favourite squash
How I ditched London for Berlin and became a published author
12 clever German idioms that'll make you sound like a pro
23 fascinating facts you never knew about Berlin
9 unmissable events to check out in Germany this October
10 things you never knew about German reunification
10 things you're sure to notice after an Oktoberfest visit
Germany's 10 most Instagram-able places
15 pics that prove Germany is absolutely enchanting in autumn
10 German films you have to watch before you die
6 things about Munich that’ll stay with you forever
10 pieces of German slang you'll never learn in class
Ouch! Naked swimmer hospitalized after angler hooks his penis
Six reasons why Berlin is now known as 'the failed city'
15 tell-tale signs you’ll never quite master German
7 American habits that make Germans very, very uncomfortable
Story of a fugitive cow who outwitted police for weeks before capture
Eleven famous Germans with surnames that'll make your sides split
The best ways to get a visa as an American in Germany
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd