Enlargement: Europe and Turkey should keep talking

24 June 2013 – Financial Times (London)

Negotiations on Turkey’s accession to the EU have once again been interrupted by Germany, in the wake of the crackdown on demonstrations in Ankara and Istanbul. Indecision on Turkish membership is undermining the credibility of the l'Union and dampening Turkey’s enthusiasm, regrets the Financial Times.

Just as France has softened its longstanding objections to reviving Turkey’s accession talks with the EU, opening the way to a resumption of negotiations after a three-year hiatus, another member state has mounted the barricades.

Last week Germany blocked the reopening of discussions with Ankara about regional policy, one of the 35 chapters of the rulebook prospective joiners must agree to adopt before their application can be considered.

Berlin says its objection, which is not final, is “technical in nature”. But in the absence of a clearer explanation the move has been interpreted as a response to Turkey’s crackdown on demonstrators. Following news a week ago that Istanbul’s German hospital had been attacked by police and a hotel used as a refuge by protesters (and also occupied by German politicians) tear-gassed, Chancellor Angela Merkel declared that the response had been “too harsh”.

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