The European Union is on the brink of scrapping a new round of membership talks with Turkey after Germany, the EU’s biggest economic power moved to block efforts to revive Turkey’s membership bid in a move that is sure to damage relations between the two nations.
The move would further undermine Turkey’s already slim hopes of joining the trading bloc anytime soon. Germany’s stance comes after it slammed the Turkish government’s handling of the national protects sweeping the county. Throwing its support behind the German position was the Netherland’s which also has voiced its concerns over the EU negotiating with Turkey.
The German stance comes after Chancellor Angela Merkel said she was appalled by the violent crackdown being committed by Turkish police on protestors demonstrating against the increasingly authoritarian Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan.
If the Germans do not change their mind then Ireland, currently the holder of the EU presidency will have to inform Turkey that Wednesday’s round of negotiations has been postponed or cancelled.
The German position has caused some concern amongst other EU policymakers who believe that by engaging more with Turkey they can push the cause for civil rights.
“It would be a huge mistake to try to block Turkey’s EU progress right at this time,” Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt said on Sunday.
Marietje Schaake, a Dutch member of the European Parliament, said it would be unwise for the EU to slam the door on Turkey.
“This situation creates a chance for the EU to step up efforts to improve the rule of law in Turkey, such as the independence of the judiciary and respect for the fundamental rights of all people in Turkey,” she said on her website.
On Sunday thousands of protestors gathered in Istanbul’s Taksim square to call for Erdogan’s resignation cahnting slogans such “Dictator Tayyip”. They were forced out by riot police using water cannon.
Many protestors accuse Erdogan of becoming increasingly authoritarian and accuse him of pursing an Islamist agenda, a threat to Turkey’s secular political tradition.
Other issues that need to be resolved before Turkey could join the EU are the ongoing disputes over Cyprus and the hostility from countries such as France.
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