Halting accession talks with Turkey would be a strategic mistake by the EU, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said Sunday as a war of words raged between Berlin and Ankara.
During a recent election debate both Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel and her Social Democratic rival Martin Schulz endorsed ending Turkey’s EU accession talks.
Ties between the two nations have become strained since last year’s attempted overthrow of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Germany’s strong criticism of an ensuing crackdown which saw more than 50,000 people arrested.
Relations further deteriorated after the detention of several German citizens including Deniz Yucel, a correspondent for the Die Welt newspaper.
But Tsipras said “ending Turkey’s accession talks would be a strategic mistake that would maybe benefit only for Erdogan.”
Turkey is an important regional power and should remain engaged, added Tsipras, but also called on Turkey to respect international law and stop provocations.
While Greece and Turkey have long had difficult relations, ties between Athens and Berlin have frayed in recent years over the terms of Greece’s international bailouts as Germany has insisted on spending cuts and tax hikes and objected to providing any considerable debt relief.