Merkel vows block Turkey's European Union membership talks


Recently there have been tensions in the relations between Germany and Turkey.

But after the debate moderators had moved on and asked the two candidates a question about US President Donald Trump, Dr Merkel returned to the Turkey issue, suddenly throwing her weight behind an end to the membership talks.

Mrs Merkel probably went further than she intended after Mr Schulz, her Social Democratic Party (SPD) challenger to be the next chancellor, led the way during a live TV election debate on Sunday.

Chancellor Merkel was at first more careful in her response but towards the end of the debate she said she was also supportive of ending the membership talks. At least 12 Germans are now being held as political prisoners, according to the German government. Merkel cited 12 German citizens now detained by the Erdogan regime as a reason for not breaking off diplomatic relations with Turkey, and a Turkish spokesperson described the comments as an "indulgence in populism".

The Turkish foreign ministry accused German politicians of encouraging Islamophobia, adding that Turkey had helped Europe during "large chaos" when refugees fled to the continent during the 2015 migrant crisis.

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Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said August 25 that Germany was pushing its limits at a foreign ministers' meeting between Turkey, Poland and Romania.

Spokesman to the Turkish presidency Ibrahim Kalin tweeted on Monday that Merkel and Martin Schulz were attacking Turkey and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan as a diversion from more urgent problems, such as a surge in discrimination.

Yucel has now spent over 200 days in custody ahead of a trial on terror charges.

"And as the chancellor said yesterday, she will discuss there with her European counterparts whether or not to terminate membership negotiations", he added.

The ministry said it was still seeking independent confirmation of the release, but it brings the total number of Germans in Turkish custody down to 11.