Germany summons Turkish ambassador over EU criticism

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Germany summoned the Turkish ambassador Friday over sharp criticism from Ankara over reluctance to move forward with Turkey’s EU bid, a foreign ministry spokesman in Berlin said.

Turkish European Union Affairs Minister Egemen Bagis told reporters Thursday that Germany’s resistance to opening a new chapter in EU accession talks was linked to Chancellor Angela Merkel’s “election campaign.”

“That is unacceptable,” the German ministry spokesman, Andreas Peschke, told reporters.

Peschke said that Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle summoned the Turkish ambassador around midday Friday “due to remarks from Turkish officials toward Germany.”

“These remarks met with great disbelief here,” Peschke said. “We will make our position abundantly clear.”

It was not immediately clear who would meet with the ambassador as Westerwelle was on an official visit to Ukraine.

Bagis had reacted angrily to news from Brussels that EU member states had failed to reach the necessary consensus on opening a new negotiating chapter with Turkey, which could have marked an upswing in ties.

An EU diplomat had said that Germany and the Netherlands “expressed reservations” at Thursday's closed door talks between EU ambassadors.

“If Merkel is looking for material for her election campaign, it should not be Turkey,” Bagis told reporters, referring to the general election in Germany slated for September.

Merkel said Monday that she was shocked by Turkey’s violent crackdown on protests in major cities, saying it “was much too harsh.”

Peschke said there was “no direct link” between Ankara’s response to the demonstrations and the EU negotiations because the chapter in question dealt with “technical issues,” but he confirmed that Germany “and other countries” had expressed reservations on Thursday.

And he noted that “of course accession negotiations take place in a political context.”