Merkel’s Lament: A Weak Turkey Not in Germany’s Strategic Interest

German Chancellor Angela Merkel officially welcomes Turkey's President Recep Erdogan to the opening day of the G20 summit on July 7, 2017 in Hamburg, Germany. Leaders of the G20 group of nations are meeting for the July 7-8 summit. Topics high on the agenda for the summit include climate policy …
Friedemann Vogel - Pool/Getty

Germany’s long-term “strategic interest” is not best served by taking measures that would further weaken Turkey’s fragile economy, Chancellor Angela Merkel said Thursday.

The imprisonment of several German citizens for what Berlin argues are political reasons is just one dispute between Germany and Turkey to have driven a wedge through their mutual diplomatic relations.

But a deal with Turkey involving the transfer of billions in EU funds has been critical to slowing the migrant influx to Europe, and Turkey is a key NATO member.

Germany is also a keen supporter of Turkey’s ambitions to join the EU, with the country’s EU minister insisting in April it should keep the door open for Turkey and its Islamist leader to join the bloc.

Michael Roth, Germany’s minister for the EU, told a meeting of EU ministers in Luxembourg: “It is in the hands of those responsible in Turkey to decide whether they want to be a member of this European community of values.”

He added: “I would suggest we do not slam the door shut. That would be a wrong signal towards those in Turkey who still long for European values.”

AP reports Merkel told RTL television Thursday that Germany is open to new ways to enhance those relations and ensure Turkey’s economic survivial: “We can’t always think in black and white.”

With an eye on Turkey’s plummeting lira and economic woes, she said: “we have a strategic interest in a sound economic development in Turkey … If we act in a way that would weaken Turkey that would not be in our interest.”

Turkish membership of the EU was strongly supported by Britain’s former prime minister David Cameron, who said he wanted to “pave the road from Ankara to Brussels”, and the subject proved to be an important long-term concern for Leave voters during the EU referendum.

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