German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Sunday announced her decision to seek an end to the European Union membership talks with Turkey during a television debate with rival Martin Schulz, three weeks before elections in the country, reported AFP.
Merkel said, “It is clear Turkey should not become a member of the European Union.” She had never believed that it would happen, she added. Germany may also impose “real restrictions on economic contact” with Turkey, and issue a tougher travel warning against the country.
Merkel’s statement follows Ankara’s arrest of two more German nationals for “political reasons” last week, according to Berlin. This has taken the number of German prisoners in Turkey to 12. The plunge in bilateral relations began after Germany criticised Ankara over the crackdown that followed last year’s failed coup attempt there.
In April, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had warned that his country will not continue to implement the agreement to take in illegal refugees from Europe if the European Union did not fulfil the terms it agreed to. According to the deal, Ankara will take in refugees crossing the Aegean Sea to enter Greece illegally in return for money, visa-free travel and progress in negotiations for Turkey to join the EU. The deal came into effect on April 4, 2016, when more than 200 asylum-seekers were sent to Turkey from the Greek island of Lesbos.
The agreement has been heavily criticised, with the United Nations saying the plan may be illegal by international laws. Afghan and Syrian refugees on the Greek island of Chios have threatened to commit suicide if they are sent back under the Turkey-EU deal. The continent has seen the largest refugee crisis since World War II, in the wake of the civil war in Syria and the expansion of terror outfits like the Islamic State.