By Patrick Donahue
Chancellor Angela Merkel pledged to respond “more decisively” against the government of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan after two German citizens were taken into custody in Turkey on Friday, as she ruled out an expansion of the European Union customs union amid tensions.
“Considering today’s events, perhaps we need to reconsider further’’ German policy toward Turkey, Merkel told a business group linked to her Christian Democratic Union in Nuremberg. “This has nothing at all to do with our sense of the rule of law.”
Merkel’s government announced a “reorientation” of its policy toward Turkey after the arrest of a human-rights advocate in Istanbul earlier this year as tensions between Berlin and Ankara have escalated. Erdogan has called mainstream German political parties, including Merkel’s CDU, “enemies of Turkey” and urged voters of Turkish of origin to withhold their ballots.
In her sharpest response yet to the tensions, Merkel called Erdogan’s statements “unacceptable” and stepped up her warning that talks to expand the EU customs union to Turkey and Turkish accession talks won’t move forward as relations fray.
“For me, further talks on expanding the customs union are out of the question under these circumstances,” Merkel said in Nuremberg.