European accession

Turkey-E.U. Tensions Flare Again

Turkey is growing less and less likely to join the European Union because of the country’s authoritarian president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and planned constitutional changes, E.U. Commissioner Johannes Hahn told German newspaper Bild.

“If it doesn’t change course, membership is indeed becoming more and more unrealistic,” Mr. Hahn, the European commissioner for neighborhood policy and enlargement negotiations, was quoted as saying.

Mr. Erdogan’s authoritarian leadership style and the country’s planned constitutional changes are “a departure from Europe,” Mr. Hahn, an Austrian, said. Turkey’s E.U. membership negotiations could only continue if the country made “substantial advances in the area of rule of law.”

The commissioner also condemned the president’s accusations of German “Nazi practices” after Turkish ministers were banned from campaigning in Germany to win support from expat voters for its referendum on constitutional changes, which would give Mr. Erdogan more powers.

The Turkish president, for his part, said Tuesday the Mediterranean country, a Nato ally, would review its relations with Europe.

He also described Europe as “fascist and cruel,” resembling that of the pre-World War Two era, according to news agency Reuters.

One development could perhaps ease the tensions between Turkey and Europe: referendum campaign events in Germany by Turkish politicians will no longer take place due to security concerns, the president of the group Union of European Turkish Democrats told business weekly WirtschaftsWoche, a sister publication of Handelsblatt.

The group is officially an independent association, but it is regarded as a European platform of Mr. Erdogan’s party AKP. The association has previously organized important campaign events of the AKP in Germany, including two recent ones in Cologne and Oberhausen and two canceled events in Gaggenau and Hamburg-Wilhelmsburg.

Want to keep reading?

Subscribe today, and get access to distinguished coverage of Europe’s leading economy, from its No. 1 name in financial news: Handelsblatt.