German Opposition Head Says Turkey Moving ‘Far Away’ From EU

  • Greens’ Oezdemir reflects importance of German-Turkish ties
  • Says Turkish government is failing test of democracy

Turkey is moving “far away” from the European Union as President Recep Tayyip Erdogan seeks to quash opposition after a failed coup in July, the co-leader of Germany’s opposition Greens party said.

Cem Oezdemir, who’s been a target of Erdogan’s ire in the past, added his voice to criticism from across Germany’s political spectrum as the Turkish leader moves against media outlets and says he’ll restore the death penalty. The German stance matters because Chancellor Angela Merkel is counting on Erdogan to uphold a refugee accord with the EU and about 3 million people with Turkish roots live in Germany.

Cem Oezdemir

Photographer: Krisztian Bocsi/Bloomberg

“For the time being, it’s not very realistic to expect Turkey to join” the EU, Oezdemir said in an interview with Bloomberg Television in Berlin. “I don’t see it with President Erdogan.”

Oezdemir, one of Germany’s most prominent politicians of Turkish descent, is a contender to be his party’s lead candidate in next year’s national election. While the Greens are the smaller of two opposition parties in the German lower house, or Bundestag, they are represented in 10 of 16 state assemblies and hold power in Baden-Wuerttemberg, home to companies such as Daimler AG and SAP SE.

After Merkel and Erdogan cooperated this year in securing the agreement for Turkey to restrict the flow of refugees to Europe, EU leaders are resisting Turkish pressure for faster progress in talks on joining the bloc.

“Only a democratic Turkey that respects the freedom of expression can join the European Union -- and that is not the current Turkey,” Oezdemir said on Tuesday.

The renewed criticism in Germany was triggered in part by last week’s arrest of Cumhuriyet editor-in-chief Murat Sabuncu on suspicion of assisting Fethullah Gulen, the U.S.-based Islamic preacher whom Erdogan accuses of masterminding the attempted overthrow, and the outlawed Kurdish rebel group PKK.

“Turkey is moving far away from the European Union,” said Oezdemir, who was among German lawmakers denounced by Erdogan in June after he backed a parliamentary resolution recognizing the century-old Ottoman killings of ethnic Armenians as genocide.

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