German Chancellor Angela Merkel has underlined the need for the EU and Turkey to ‘edge closer’, following Ankara’s harsh criticism of the current Turkish EU-membership talks.
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has sharply criticised the Germa EU Presidency’s efforts in an interview with German news magazine Der Spiegel.
He claimed that Germany could have given more support to Turkey when the EU decided to suspend talks in eight out of 35 negotiation areas in December 2006. The Turkish PM further called the decision not to invite Turkey to the EU’s 50th anniversary celebrations in Berlin a “big mistake” and said that this was overshadowing the German Presidency.
In the interview Erdogan asked for a clear membership perspective for his country. He said: “We want a clear target date, a road map, a timeline for the negotiations,” and added that he saw 2014/15 as a realistic accession deadline.
Following the criticism, Chancellor Merkel reassured her Turkish counterpart that the German Presidency was making intensive efforts to “push ahead” in EU-Turkey talks.
After a meeting with Erdogan at the Hannover trade fair on 15 April 2007, the German Chancellor said: “We are looking ahead,” but also restated that the outcome of Turkish EU membership negotiations remained “open”.
On this occasion, the Turkish prime minister used more conciliatory language, stating that “negotiations have been boosted” under the German EU Presidency.
Turkish frustration with EU membership talks is also an issue of debate in the run-up to the country’s presidential and parliamentary elections this year.