Merkel is ‘harming EU credibility’: German chancellor savaged for ‘unfortunate statement'

Omer Celik, Turkey’s EU minister, criticised the German leader for saying there would be no expansion of the customs union between Turkey and the bloc – as well as “no kind of deepening at all” in ties between the two powers.

Mr Celik said: “This is an unfortunate statement. We should emphasise that no EU member should give orders to EU institutions or EU processes.

“These situations are very dangerous. They represent statements that harm the EU’s credibility.”

He added that customs union cooperation between Turkey and the EU would benefit both parties, saying: “They are acting as if doing so is a favour to Turkey. 

“Let me be very clear, we are in no rush.”

Mrs Merkel’s reservations about closer ties with Turkey come after a series of disputes related to President Erdogan’s crackdown following last year’s attempted coup.

In an interview with video bloggers yesterday, the German chancellor said recent tensions made it impossible to enhance ties between Brussels and Ankara – despite claiming Turkey’s EU accession talks should continue in an “open-ended” manner.

She said: “For the time being, we would not carry out talks with Turkey on improving, enhancing the Customs Union.

“There will be no pre-accession assistance to Turkey, for areas where we do not clearly know where the money is going.”

The EU had originally planned to allocate around £3.6billion (€4billion) for Turkey between 2014 and 2020 to encourage the country to adopt European standards in various fields including rule of law, human rights and press freedom.

So far, only £172million (€189million) has been delivered to Ankara and recent tensions mean further financial assistance may no longer be available.

Brussels’ offer of financial assistance to Turkey has been strongly criticised by opposition parties in Germany who are hoping to take the reins in Berlin when the country goes to the polls next month.

Opposition politicians have called for Merkel to take measures to freeze the EU funds made available to Germany, but the chancellor’s position is made more difficult by the ever-increasing Turkish population Germany. 

With around four million Turks believed to be living in Germany, Mrs Merkel is keen not to lose valuable votes ahead of next month’s election.

Meanwhile, Turkey is also puttying pressure on Germany to cooperate with their request for the extradition of Adil Oksuz, a theology lecturer believed to have played a major role in last year’s failed coup.

Turkish media reports that Oksuz has been spotted in Frankfurt and Ulm and Mr Celik has urged Berlin to hand him over, saying: “No ally of ours can harbour a killer.”

“Even the possibility of someone with a clear tie to the coup attempt being harboured by our ally is saddening.”

Daily Express :: World Feed

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