German Foreign Minister Says Turkey Will Never Join EU Under President Erdogan
Turkey will never become a member of the European Union as long as it was under the leadership of Tayyip Erdogan, German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel said on Thursday while accusing the Turkish president of failing to take accession talks seriously, according to Reuters.
His remarks were published in an interview with the newspaper Bild and are likely to continue escalating tensions between the two NATO allies after earlier this month Erdogan encouraged any German Turks to boycott the main parties in Germany's general election next month.
"It is clear that in this state, Turkey will never become a member of the EU," Gabriel said. "It's not because we don't want them but because the Turkish government and Erdogan are moving fast away from everything that Europe stands for."
Accession talks have essentially died though Turkey remains a candidate for membership, and many of Turkey's Western allies fear that the new powers Erdogan won in a tight referendum from April are pushing Turkey away from democratic values.
Erdogan said that both the crackdown and increased presidential powers are necessary to help with the intense security challenges Turkey faces both at home and beyond its borders.
Earlier this week, Turkey's EU Affairs Minister Ömer Çelik said that Foreign Minister Gabriel was copying the "far-right and racists" during the diplomatic spat.
“Gabriel is not making original statements. He speaks by ‘copying’ from the far-right and racists,” Çelik wrote on Twitter before adding that Gabriel “reached the same level as the refugee enemy and symbol of racist politics: the Austrian foreign minister [Sebastian Kurz, a vocal critic of the Turkish government].”
Celik said attacks by “racists, fascists, and enemies of Islam” against Turkey or President Recep Tayyip Erdogan meant “nothing” to Ankara.
Gabriel responded to the command from Erdogan that Germany and the rest of Europe would support the "democratically minded" majority of Turks that do not support Erdogan.