Turkey’s European Union minister accused Germany on Thursday of harming EU credibility by trying to dictate policy towards Ankara, after Chancellor Angela Merkel said there would be no expansion of a customs union or deepening in EU-Turkish ties.
Relations between Turkey and European Union countries have deteriorated sharply after a series of disputes linked to Turkey’s crackdown in the wake of last year’s failed coup attempt, in which 250 people were killed.
Tensions with Germany are particularly acute because Turkish authorities detained several German nationals including a journalist and a rights activist. Germany is also withdrawing forces from Turkey’s Incirlik air base after Ankara restricted access to German politicians.
Turkey formally remains a candidate to join the European Union but Merkel said on Wednesday that no new chapters in accession talks were being opened and aid to Turkey had been cut to a minimum. There would be no expansion in the customs union, she said, and “no kind of deepening at all” in relations.
Turkey’s European Union minister Omer Celik said Merkel’s comments were unfortunate and damaging.
“We should emphasize that no EU member should give orders to EU institutions or EU processes,” he told a news conference in Ankara. “These situations are very dangerous, they represent statements that harm the EU’s credibility.”
Celik said both Turkey and the European Union would gain from updating the customs union. “But they are acting as if doing so is a favour to Turkey. Let me be very clear, we are in no rush,” he said.