The Estonian foreign minister, whose country holds the European Union’s six-month rotating presidency, says any decision to end Turkey’s bid to join the continental bloc would not be made this year.
Sven Mikser said Thursday that if the EU is to decide to cease Turkey’s years-long accession talks, it should wait for an assessment by the European Commission, the executive arm of the EU which monitors Turkey’s compliance with membership criteria. Mikser added that a commission assessment was expected early next year.
“I do not expect the European Union to make any decisions in that regard during this year,” he said at a meeting of EU foreign ministers in Tallinn.
The comments come after German Chancellor Angela Merkel said last week during her campaign to win a fourth term in power that she would call on the EU to terminate Turkey's accession talks. That came after Turkey arrested two more German nationals over alleged links to last year’s coup attempt.
Ankara and Berlin have locked horns since the last July coup attempt in Turkey.
Germany has been critical of Turkey’s handling of the aftermath of the coup, which has seen more than 150,000 people arrested or discharged from jobs, while Ankara accuses Berlin of supporting the opponents of the Turkish government.
Turkey, a member of the NATO military alliance, is of significance to the EU, especially when it comes to the refugee crisis which has gripped Europe since 2015.
Merkel led the EU talks with Turkey on a historic agreement in March 2016 on relocation of refugees. Ankara has warned at times of heightened tensions with the EU that it would rescind the deal.