German Chancellor Angela Merkel and her opponent, Social Democratic Party of Germany's (SPD) candidate for the German Chancellorship Martin Schulz faced off in a TV election debate yesterday (September 3). One of the discussion topics was Turkey and the European Union membership negotiations with Turkey.
While SPD's candidate Schulz, who was also the former President of the European Parliament said that he would halt accession talks with Turkey, Merkel pointed out that Turkey was departing from all democratic practices and said "real restrictions on economic contact" should be imposed.
Pointing out that although he had supported Turkey's membership for a long time, he now had no other option due to Turkey's current actions, Schulz said that he would halt membership talks with Turkey if he was elected Chancellor and noted:
"A point has been reached where we need to end the economic relationship, the financial relationship, the customs union and the accession talks".
Merkel on the other hand said she would rather than formally ending EU membership talks, seek imposing "real restrictions on economic contact" including through the European Investment Bank, EU aid, World Bank and by blocking talks on expanding Turkey's customs union agreement with the EU.
Upon being asked "Are you as a Chancellor helpless?" regarding the 12 citizens of Germany being kept in custody for political reasons and Turkey's remarks on the issue advising Europe to mind its own business, Merkel said: "Of course I am not helpless" and added that that they were trying to make the citizens of Germany behind bars in Turkey to reach their freedom. (YY/DG)