Erdogan urges Germany to back Turkey EU bid

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Visiting Berlin, Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has urged Germany to give greater backing to his country’s bid to join the EU.

He stressed the role Ankara could play in conflict resolution, for instance, arguing that Turkish membership would benefit the bloc.

“The financial crisis, the global crisis, the Arab spring and events in Syria and Egypt have shown that the European Union needs Turkey more than Turkey needs the EU,” he told the German Council on Foreign Relations think-tank.

“We expect and hope that Germany will fully support us on the path to the European Union and in the accession process. We want Germany to do more,” Erdogan added, saying that Berlin’s backing so far had not been adequate.

Last week he won cautious support for the EU bid from France’s President Francois Hollande, but the German Chancellor seemed unconvinced.

Stressing that the negotiations are an “open-ended process” and that they must progress, Angela Merkel said: “It is no secret and I haven’t changed my opinion, I am skeptical about Turkey being a full member of the European Union.”

Erdogan did appear to have won a concession from Merkel on the unblocking of two crucial chapters in accession talks: Chapter 23 that deals with judiciary and fundamental rights and 24 on justice, freedom and security.

“I am in favour of unblocking 23 and 24,” she said.

The European Commissioner in charge of enlargement, Stefan Fuele, has argued that opening up these chapters would be an effective way of tackling Turkey’s poor human rights record.

Merkel also said an exchange would be held in judicial matters between Germany and Turkey, whose government has been hit by a corruption scandal.

A few hundred members of Germany’s Turkish minority of three million people protested at Erdogan’s visit, by Berlin’s Brandenburg Gate.

Many denounced alleged corruption.

Erdogan has cast the scandal at home as a “judicial coup” meant to undermine him ahead of elections.

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