ANKARA (Reuters) - A spokesman for Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan accused German politicians on Monday of indulging in populism after Chancellor Angela Merkel said she would seek an end to Ankara’s European Union membership talks.
Merkel, seeking a fourth term in office in Germany’s Sept. 24 election, said in a debate on Sunday it was clear that Turkey should not join the European Union, and that she would talk to other EU leaders about ending its stalled accession process.
“It is not a coincidence that our president Erdogan was the main topic of the debate,” Erdogan’s spokesman Ibrahim Kalin tweeted, criticising what he described as mainstream German politicians’ “indulgence in populism”.
“Germany and Europe’s attacks on Turkey/Erdogan, by ignoring essential and urgent problems, are reflections of the narrowing of their horizons,” he said.
“We hope that the problematic atmosphere that made Turkish-German relations the victim of this narrow political horizon will end”.
Turkey’s ties with Germany and several other EU states have deteriorated sharply this year. Points of dispute have included the barring of Turkish politicians from holding campaign rallies in EU countries ahead of an April referendum, and concerns over the powers granted to Erdogan in the closely fought plebiscite.
Turkey has also restricted access for German parliamentarians seeking to visit German troops at the Incirlik air base in southern Turkey, leading Berlin to announce it was moving those forces out of Turkey. It has also detained several German nationals, including journalist Deniz Yucel.
Turkey says it has sent Germany an extradition request for one of the main suspects it says was behind an attempted military coup in July 2016. More than 50,000 people have been arrested and 150,000 have been suspended or sacked in a security crackdown since the failed putsch.
Reporting by Dirimcan Barut; Writing by Dominic Evans; Editing by Mark Trevelyan