Merkel Puts Turkey on Notice

Supporters of Turkish President Erdogan wave national flags as they wait for his arrival at the Presidential Palace in Ankara
Constitutional changes in Turkey could sink membership talks with the EU once and for all. Source: Reuters

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s victory in Turkey’s constitutional referendum could spell the end to Ankara’s long-stalled bid to become a member of the European Union.

In a carefully worded joint statement, Chancellor Angela Merkel and German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel warned the Turkish government on Monday that as a candidate for EU membership, it is obligated to respect European standards of democracy and the rule of law.

Ms. Merkel and Mr. Gabriel pointed to the deep reservations expressed by the Council of Europe, an international human rights organization, about the constitutional changes and the manner in which the referendum was conducted.

Election observers with the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe said the state of emergency in place in Turkey since a failed coup last year resulted in an unlevel playing field during the referendum campaign.

In effect, the German government has put Turkey on notice that its long-stalled bid to join the European Union hangs in the balance should it refuse to address European concerns about the constitutional changes, which abolish the office of the prime minister and centralize power under President Erdogan.

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