Merkel is ‘harming EU credibility’, says Turkey’s EU minister

ANKARA (Reuters) – Turkey’s EU minister said on Thursday that German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s comments about halting the expansion of a customs union between Ankara and the European Union harmed the credibility of the bloc.

Merkel said on Wednesday there would be no expansion of the customs union and “no kind of deepening at all” in ties between Turkey and the European Union after a series of disputes linked to Turkey’s crackdown following last year’s failed coup attempt.

“This is an unfortunate statement. We should emphasise that no EU member should give orders to EU institutions or EU processes,” Omer Celik told a news conference in Ankara.

“These situations are very dangerous, they represent statements that harm the EU’s credibility.”

Celik said both Turkey and the European Union would gain from changes to the customs union. “But they are acting as if doing so is a favour to Turkey. Let me be very clear, we are in no rush,” he said.

The minister also called on Berlin to cooperate with Turkey’s request for the extradition of a theology lecturer suspected of playing a major role in the failed coup last year.

Turkish media have reported that Adil Oksuz has been spotted in Frankfurt and Ulm and given a temporary residency permit by Germany’s Baden-Wurttemberg state.

“No ally of ours can harbour a killer,” Celik said. “Even the possibility of someone with a clear tie to the coup attempt being harboured by our ally is saddening.”


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