Berlin goes slow on Turkey-EU talks, denies protest link

June 14, 2013 17:38

BERLIN - Germany is dragging its feet over letting Turkey take the next step in slow-moving membership talks with the European Union amid widespread concern over Ankara's tough handling of anti-government protests, EU officials said on Friday.

Berlin has criticized Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan's heavy handed response to two weeks of protests that began over a redevelopment project in an Istanbul park.Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle urged Erdogan this week to uphold "the spirit of European values".

A senior EU official said Germany was reluctant to open a new negotiating area with Turkey on regional policy, one of the bloc's main spending programs for new members, as expected at the next tentatively scheduled ministerial talks on June 26.

"That's what we have heard from the Germans," the official said. Another EU diplomat said Germany had not officially said it would block the opening of the so-called negotiating chapter, "but we know this is an issue in Berlin, the political developments in Turkey."

German Foreign Ministry spokesman Andreas Peschke said there was "no direct link between the events we are now witnessing and the technical process of opening further chapters on accession".

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