EU struggling to reach decision on membership talks with Turkey
While the EU nations remained divided on Monday on whether to open a new round of membership talks with Turkey, Germany and other EU members opposed the opening of accession talks on a new chapter partly because of the Turkish government's handling of protests over the past weeks. Ministers engaged in a tense debate throughout the day yesterday to find a compromise that would deliver multiple messages to Turkey. Meanwhile, speaking at the Turkish-German Chamber of Commerce in Berlin, German Chancellor Angela Merkel has assured that the German government will stick to the EU agreement on accession negotiations, but called on Ankara to clear the obstacles in front of the opening of a further chapter. Stating that they must make progress on the issue of the Ankara Protocol, which she called the most enduring barrier, Merkel said that they also expected progress in the areas they have identified. Touching on her reaction to the Turkish government's crackdown on the protests, Merkel said the demonstrations should be seen as richness instead of a threat. "In Germany there have been similar debates, but we always got through by becoming stronger. I had said that I saw horrific images, and dialogue must be privileged to solve this. We cannot ignore what is happening," she said. Despite the concerns, Belgium too insisted on pressing ahead. "We should never close the door," said Foreign Minister Didier Reynders. For his part, Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt said that they can't change the strategy of the European Union just because there happens to be nervousness in one part or in the other, adding, "The participation of new countries to the EU bloc is the most successful and significant EU policy that aims to bring peace and security to the continent. Thus this policy cannot be left to short-lived caprices." Catherine Ashton, the EU's foreign policy chief also said, "I have always believed that Turkey's future will be united with us," underlining the need for the more collaboration to speed up the process. "My general view on everything is engagement is a much better option where you possibly can," she noted.