World

After Pro-Erdogan Vote, German Conservatives Call for End to EU-Turkey Talks

A EU (L) and Turkish flag fly outside a hotel in Istanbul, Turkey, May 4, 2016. Credit: Reuters/Murad Sezer/Files

Berlin: Two senior German conservative politicians have called for the EU to end discussions with Turkey about EU membership after a vote that handed new powers to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Norbert Roettgen, a member of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU) and head of the foreign affairs committee, said failing to issue consequences after the referendum vote would hurt Europe.

“We would damage the credibility of Europe if we failed to respond to Turkey’s decision against democracy, against the rule of law … if we continue to hold fast to the fiction of accession for a country with such a government and such a constitution,” Roettgen told broadcaster Deutschlandfunk in an interview to air on Sunday.

He said pretending that Turkey joining the EU would also prevent Europe from forging a new, more realistic relationship with Turkey.

Turks voted a week ago by a narrow margin to abolish the post of prime minister and concentrate power in the hands of the president, the biggest overhaul of Turkey’s political system since the modern state was established nearly a century ago.

The results have been challenged in court by Turkey’s main opposition party. Independent election monitors from the Council of Europe and the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe have also questioned the vote.

Joachim Herrmann, the interior minister of Bavaria and a member of the CDU’s Bavarian sister party, said EU accession talks for Turkey should be ended, not paused.

“It’s about time that the EU membership negotiations are ended,” Herrmann told the German newspaper Bild am Sonntag. “We have to stop kidding ourselves: There are no common perspectives with the Turkey of Erdogan.”

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan addresses his supporters during a rally for the upcoming referendum, in Izmir, Turkey, April 9, 2017. Credit: Reuters/Umit Bektas/Files

Turkish economy minister Nihat Zeybecki on Thursday remained committed to its goal of full membership in the EU.

Ties with Brussels have been strained in recent months in the run-up to the April 16 referendum.

Roettgen, Herrmann and other senior lawmakers, shocked by the strength of support among Turks in Germany for the measure, are also calling for tighter rules on dual citizenship.

Germany is home to some three million people with Turkish roots and some politicians say the loyalty many showed to Erdogan, a leader viewed by many in the EU as increasingly authoritarian, reflects a rejection of democratic values.

Roettgen said the result of the vote among Turks in Germany underscored the lack of complete integration of many second and third generation Turks into German society.

He said the issue also involved language, education and a need to outline clear expectations of what was expected of German citizens.