TEHRAN, Sep. 08 (Press Shia) – Turkish Political analyst Semih Idiz says Berlin and Ankara relation will remain strained after the elections, but will be managed in a way to ensure a total breakdown is avoided.
Recently the tensions between Ankara and Berlin has risen. President Erdogan’s call to German Turks not to vote for German main political parties in incoming election faced wide reaction by German politicians and officials.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel couple of days ago in a surprise remarks in her first Televised electoral campaign vowed to stop Turkey’s EU accession talks.
A day after Merkel’s remarks, EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini talking to Turkish FM at Bled Strategic Forum said that talks with Turkey as EU important partner will continue.
Merkel’s spokesperson also on Sep. 5 said that no decision would be made on Turkey before election in Germany.
To shed more light on the ongoing tensions between two countries, Payman Yazdani from Mehr News agency reached out to Semih Idiz, Turkish Political analyst.
Following is the full text of his remarks.
Merkel has always been among the European politicians defending talks with Tukey. Why did she surprisingly bring up freezing of Turkey’s accession talks?
While Merkel has always defended Turkey in various ways she has never been a supporter of Ankara’s EU bid, and has openly said so. She is nevertheless using the EU card now to try and hit back at Erdogan for his angry remarks about Germany and his call to Turks in Germany not to vote for mainstream parties.
If Berlin decides to stop accession talks with Turkey, will other EU member states follow Germany?
The weapons she is using however has two edges and she can go only so far. So she is saying, for example that she will try and convince the other members states on Turkey, but has not said that Germany will veto Turkey’s membership negotiations, which Germany has a right to do. France, for example, which is also opposed to Turkey’s membership, has vetoed chapters in the negotiation process that have to do with full membership, and is only allowing chapters which will boost Turkish-EU ties further but with guarantee membership for Ankara.
If Germany tries to end Turkey’s accession talks, it has said it will only do this as a collective EU decision. There are countries in the EU, surprisingly such as Greece, for example, which would not be happy to see this happen since it is better for them to engage with Ankara rather than burn bridges. So I believe a consensus on stopping Turkey’s membership negotiations will be very difficult to obtain.
Why Berlin doesn’t use its veto right to stop Turkey’s accession rights, if they, in fact, don’t want Turkey to join the EU? What will be the consequences for such a possible decision?
The reason why Merkel can go so far only is not just the 3 million Turks in her country who are there to stay, which she has to factor into her considerations, but also the refugee crisis Europe is facing, which needs Turkey’s cooperation, and the economic interaction between Turkey and Germany worth billions of Euros, especially in strategic areas like energy.
The Siemens Company for example was awarded a multibillion dollar wind power project recently, so German businessmen, who represent a serious lobby in Berlin, are concerned about the deterioration of ties between the two countries and will do what they can to stop this.
How do you see the prospect for improving of ties between two sides after German election?
The prospects for improved ties after the German elections, however, do not look good given the number of serious problems between the two countries from the FETO issue, to Germany citizens arrested in Turkey on terrorism charges. I think relations will remain strained after the elections, but will be managed in a way to ensure a total breakdown is avoided.
Will Erdogan’s call to German Turks not to vote for the country’s mainstream political parties affect the result of the election?
I think it will because Erdogan has a strong support base among Turks in that country. There is however an increasing number of Turks who believe that following Erdogan will be to the detriment of the Turks in Germany in the end. There is the chance therefore that this awareness could result in a better understanding of the situation between the two countries by German Turkish supporters of Erdogan who will continue to live in that country.
Considering the fact that two countries are NATO allies, will possible end to accession talks affect the EU and Germany security and energy security?
Although Turkey and Germany are NATO members, NATO is not linked to the EU so an end to accession talk for Turkey will not affect the security requirements of the two countries given broader strategic considerations. But what it will do is pour fuel on the debate about whether Turkey is leaving the western fold, and gradually moving away from its collective security structure. That debate however has raged for a long time. It has to be underlined that Turkey also gets much out of the security cover provided by NATO so it is not easy for it to just dump its membership in the alliance.
Semih Idiz is a columnist for Al-Monitor’s Turkey Pulse. He is a journalist who has been covering diplomacy and foreign policy issues for major Turkish newspapers for 30 years. His opinion pieces can be followed in the English-language Hurriyet Daily News. His articles have also been published in The Financial Times, The Times of London, Mediterranean Quarterly and Foreign Policy magazine.
Interview by Payman Yazdani