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Germany resists pressure to halt EU talks with Turkey

Germany resists pressure to halt EU talks with Turkey
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German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier says he hopes to restore direct talks with Ankara, despite concerns about Turkey’s use of mass arrests and dismissals to crack down on those suspected of being behind a failed coup attempt.

Speaking after a meeting with other German-speaking foreign ministers in Liechtenstein,Steinmeier resisted a push by Austria to halt talks with Turkey on joining the EU.

He argued, however, that Brussels needs to think more broadly about how to frame its relationship with Ankara at a troubled time.

He also said the reinstatement of the death penalty in Turkey would be incompatible with EU values.

What Steinmeier said

“I will work to ensure that the dialogue with Turkey does not occur solely via megaphones and microphones and cameras.”

“There is no alternative – even if it is difficult in these times – but to return to a direct dialogue with Turkey.”

“I am focused on how to manage the relationship with Turkey in this difficult situation and what we can do for those who have been arrested.”

EU-Turkey relations strained

EU leaders are concerned by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s crackdown on suspected dissidents after the coup attempt in July.

Turkey’s ties with the EU, Vienna in particular, descended into name-calling on Friday.

Turkey’s foreign minister labelled Austria the “capital of radical racism” after Chancellor Christian Kern suggested ending accession talks with Ankara.

Mevlet Cavusoglu said:“Instead of supporting our democracy, our European friends, and this is a typical attitude by the way, have been trying to give us a lesson. They have used this coup attempt and its aftermath to express their real feelings. Like hatred and Islamophobic, anti-Turkey sentiments.”

What about Ankara’s deal with Brussels?

Turkey has so far lived up to its side of the landmark deal to stop illegal migration to Europe via its shores.

This is in return for financial aid, the promise of visa-free travel to much of the bloc and accelerated talks on membership.

However, Ankara has complained about Europe not living up to its side of the agreement.

Turkish Cypriots

Turkish Cypriot supporters of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan held a rally in his support in the divided city of Nicosia on Cyprus.

The gathering took place after hundreds of Turkish Cypriots took to the streets on Wednesday to protest against what they say is Turkey’s attempt to mould their secular culture into one more in tune with Islamic norms.

Cyprus was divided in 1974 when Turkey invaded after a coup by supporters of a union with Greece.

Only Turkey recognises the Turkish Cypriot declaration of independence and maintains more than 30,000 troops in the north.