EU enlargement commissioner calls on the bloc to reconsider its policies towards Turkey

By bne IntelliNews August 22, 2017

EU Enlargement Commissioner Johannes Hahn has called for a new policy stance towards Turkey after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan last week urged Turks living in Germany to vote against Chancellor Angela Merkel’s CDU and her coalition partner Social Democrats in next month’s elections.

Erdogan described the Christian Democrats, the Social Democratic Party (SPD), and the Green Party as the enemies of Turkey”. I am calling on my countrymen to teach a lesson at the ballot box to those parties who are disrespectful toward Turkey,” Erdogan said on August 18.

"I believe it is time for the member states to discuss the strategic implications of this behaviour. Shrugging your shoulders is not a political strategy in the long run,” Hahn told German daily Sueddeutsche Zeitung in an interview on August 21, according to euobserver.com.

The interference of Erdogan in a national election campaign is unacceptable, Hahn said.

Turkey’s relations with the EU, especially with Germany, deteriorated markedly in the wake of last year’s failed coup attempt. The EU criticises the measures, including sweeping purges and a state of emergency, the Ankara government has taken following the botched putsch.

The European Parliament adopted a resolution on July 6 calling for the suspension of accession talks with Turkey if the government in Ankara implemented constitutional changes it says were approved in the controversial referendum in April, which granted sweeping executive presidency powers to Erdogan.

MEPs supported upgrading the EU-Turkey customs union but asked for human rights and fundamental freedoms to be part of any new agreement.

However, Merkel recently warned that the upgrading of the customs union agreement between the bloc and Turkey may be at risk.

“We are not opening new chapters in Turkey’s [EU] accession bid and we have lowered membership preparation aid to a minimum. Also, for the time being the customs union deal with Turkey will not be changed or updated,” Merkel said on August 16.

Ankara accuses its Western allies and Berlin of failing to support the Turkish government in the wake of the coup attempt. Turkey also says that Germany harbours members of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), and suspected coup plotters.

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