German election: Merkel leads TV debate04/09/17Government
German chancellor Angela Merkel announced her intention to seek an end to Turkey’s EU membership talks during a TV debate with opposition leader Martin Schulz on 3 September.
Merkel and Schulz clashed in the 97-minute exchange on refugee policy, Turkey, and domestic security. She agreed with his statement that Turkey should not become a member of the EU, while he expressed doubt about whether US President Donald Trump could deal effectively with North Korea’s nuclear provocations.
Polls released by Germany’s public broadcasters afterward declared Merkel the winner. However, they have also shown that many voters remain uncertain about who should lead Germany over the next four years.
With millions of voters still undecided, Schulz had been looking to the debate to reduce the 17% point lead of Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party and their Bavarian Christian Social Union (CSU) allies ahead of the 24 September polls.
Schulz said: “If I become German chancellor, if the people of this country give me a mandate, then I will propose to the European Council that we end the membership talks with Turkey. Now all red lines are crossed, so this country can no longer become a member of the EU.”
“The fact is clear that Turkey should not become a member of the EU,” said Merkel, agreeing with Schulz.
“I’ll speak to my [EU] colleagues to see if we can reach a joint position on this so that we can end these accession talks.”
However, she refused to completely halt the relationship with Turkey.
“If you want citizens to be freed, you have to continue the conversation,” she added.