Campaign intensifies Berlin-Ankara conflict

In the TV debate challenger Martin Schulz surprised Chancellor Merkel by demanding that the EU accession talks with Ankara be broken off. For years the SPD had rejected such a move. Merkel then stressed that she had always taken a critical view of EU membership for Turkey. Will Germany slam the EU's door on Turkey in the middle of the election campaign?

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Süddeutsche Zeitung (DE) /

Voters won't buy membership anymore

After the TV debate the Süddeutsche Zeitung sees the termination of the membership talks with Turkey as inevitable:

“It really looks as if the Germans are once again presenting the others with a fait accompli. But that's not quite the case. President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has created the whole situation. He exploited the failed coup to dismantle democracy and the rule of law in Turkey. … It is he who has effectively broken off the accession negotiations. Continuing the talks can no longer be justified either to the people of Germany or those of other EU member states. After Schulz took her by surprise with a U-turn on the SPD's course so far, Merkel has decided to stop trying to justify a continuation. Other leaders will follow suit.”

Der Standard (AT) /

Erdoğan laughing up his sleeve

An end to the membership talks would be a gift to Erdoğan, writes Der Standard:

“The termination of the accession talks would be a release for Erdoğan - rather than a political defeat this would give the authoritarian head of state free rein. ... No more 'benchmarks' through which the legal situation in Turkey is judged by European standards; no more humiliating monitoring reports by the Commission and the EU parliament; no catalogue of reforms that have to be implemented one by one. Instead an enormous, unforgettable act of injustice by the Christian Democratic Union against the Turkish people - as Erdoğan will no doubt present it in his speeches.”

L'Echo (BE) /

Close to the point of no return

The move will come as a bitter disappointment to the Turkish opposition, L'Echo warns:

“Breaking off the talks will serve the interests both of the Islamic conservatives in Erdoğan's AKP as well as those of Europe's conservatives. Certainly, no one wants an Erdoğan-led Turkey in the EU. But at the same time we must be careful not to pass the point of no return. Turkey is not Erdoğan. We must not rob the country's secular opposition of all hope of joining the EU, at the risk of seeing this country, a Nato member, fall into the hands of an increasingly radical Islam that could further destabilise this part of the world.”

Hürriyet Daily News (TR) /

Merkel left with few options

Hürriyet Daily News takes a dim view of the announced suspension of the EU accession talks:

“Most Turks have long since accommodated themselves to the belief that this membership will never happen. Put another way, Merkel did not invest enough in regard to this question in the past for her threat today to be meaningful. All she can really do to hurt Turkey - and even that to a certain extent only - is to prevent the modernization of the EU-Turkey Customs Union. Her dilemma, however, is that German business has also invested much in this customs union so any extreme steps by Berlin would backfire.”