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Ankara warns Merkel not to politicise its bid to join EU

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Ankara criticised Berlin on Thursday over a reluctance to open a new chapter that could further its bid to join the European Union, shrugging it off as German Chancellor Angela Merkel's "election campaign."

"If Merkel is looking for material for her election campaign, it should not be Turkey," European Union Affairs Minister Egemen Bagis told reporters, referring to the parliamentary elections in Germany slated for September.

His comments come ahead of a decision that is expected to come out of Brussels on Monday on the fate of the new chapter with Turkey, which could have marked an upswing in ties.

But at closed door talks between EU ambassadors on Thursday, "Germany and the Netherlands expressed reservations, and as we need unanimity we still have no common agreement," an EU diplomat said.

A vast majority of EU nations favour Turkey's continued bid with the bloc, despite concerns over Turkey's recent crackdown against anti-government protesters which led to the death of four people and left nearly 8,000 wounded.

Delivering one of the harshest comments, Merkel said earlier this week that "what is happening in Turkey at the moment does not mesh with our ideas of freedom of assembly."

"I am in any case shocked," she said.

Bagis said Turkey's negotiation process would not come to an end "over a politician's remarks" unless there is a unanimous decision to block Turkey's accession.

Turkey's accession talks officially started in 2005 but so far only one out of 35 chapters has been closed, mainly due to disagreements over Cyprus and a fierce opposition from European leaders, including Merkel and former French president Nicolas Sarkozy.

"Sarkozy tried to use (Turkey) before but it did not end too well for him," Bagis said.

In February Merkel signalled favourable opinion on the opening of the new chapter, while warning that she was "sceptical" about the outcome of the negotiations.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130620/ankara-warns-merkel-not-politicise-its-bid-join-eu