By RFE RL
(RFE/RL) — German Chancellor Angela Merkel says she wants to end European Union membership talks with Turkey, amid rising tensions between the two NATO countries.
In a televised debate with political rival Martin Schulz on September 3, Merkel said that “it is clear that Turkey should not become a member of the European Union.”
She said she will discuss with other EU leaders to determine if “we can end these membership talks.”
“I don’t see [Turkey] ever joining, and I had never believed that it would happen,” she added.
Tensions between Berlin and Ankara began to deteriorate after Germany sharply criticized Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for the crackdown on dissent after a failed coup attempt against his government last year.
On September 1, tensions flared again when Merkel said Germany should react decisively to Ankara’s detention of two additional German citizens, as calls grew in Germany for Berlin to issue a formal travel warning for Turkey, a popular tourist destination for many Germans.
At least 12 German citizens are in Turkish detention on political charges, four with dual citizenship.
Merkel’s strong words against Turkey came after her rival, Schulz, had minutes earlier called for an end to the EU membership talks for Ankara.
Merkel’s CDU party and Bavarian CSU allies hold a 17-percentage point lead over Schulz’s SPD ahead of the September 24 national election.