German Chancellor Angela Merkel has brushed aside the European Union’s mounting criticism on Turkey
as unnecessary, saying Ankara
should continue to remain as a major partner for the EU in the fight against terror.
“We in Europe
must jointly discuss what sort of future relationship we want with Turkey,” Merkel said in an interview published Wednesday in the Berliner Zeitung, adding, “You should not just push away such a partner, even in view of negative developments that we must address.”
The comments come amid increasing tensions between the EU and Turkey as the 28-nation bloc continues to criticize Ankara for its lack of tolerance for dissent. The results of a referendum in April, which significantly increased the authority of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, have further strained the relations.
Some EU member states have even called for the disqualification of Ankara in joining the EU following the Turkish referendum.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (AFP photo)
Merkel, however, said Turkey was “an important partner” in the fight against terror and that the EU and NATO had to maintain good ties with Ankara to ensure their own interests.
The German chancellor was more cautious about Turkey’s EU membership bid, saying if Ankara reintroduced the death penalty, it would have crossed a red line with the EU.
Merkel’s conservative Christian Democrats party (CDU) is skeptical that Turkey could one day join the EU. Merkel has for long argued that no decisions on actual membership are close but talks with Ankara should continue.
In another interview published on Wednesday, Merkel rejected calls from within the CDU for tightening the grip on dual nationals in Germany
, a country home to more than three million people with Turkish origin. Merkel said the issue would not be raised in the run-up to the September 24 parliamentary election.
“Dual citizenship will not be an election campaign issue like it was in 1999,” Merkel told the Koelner Stadt Anzieger, making a reference to the heated debate nearly two decades ago, which finally led to changes in the rules governing dual citizenship in 2000.