Tallinn - While the German government repeated its plan on Friday to consider freezing or even ending accession talks with Turkey, European Union foreign ministers shrugged off the idea and instead stressed the need for dialogue.
Both German Chancellor Angela Merkel as well as her main rival Martin Schulz had called for an end to Turkey's EU membership negotiations during a TV debate on Sunday.
Turkey's EU accession file
Merkel's spokesman confirmed the chancellor's intention of bringing up the issue at an upcoming summit with other EU heads of state in October.
But at a two-day meeting of foreign ministers in Estonia, the country which currently holds the EU presidency, several ministers made it clear that formally ending accession talks, which would require unanimity among EU member states, is not an option.
"The Turks have been going through a very difficult time," British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said, adding that all EU countries were seriously concerned about the human rights situation in the country.
"We should not push Turkey away," Johnson said. "It's a strategically important country for us."
Johnson's views were echoed by Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney, who stressed the need for dialogue and maintaining "the prospect of a future Turkish accession." "Obviously things changed a lot in Turkey in the last 12 months, and we shouldn't pretend that that didn't happen, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't continue to reach out," Coveney said.
Cooperation with the European Union
Meanwhile Turkish Minister for European Affairs Omer Celik accused the German government of trying to use the European Union for its own ends.
Celik said that those who are calling for accession talks with Turkey to be ended were trying to "use the European Union in order to tackle the bilateral problems."
Celik called again not only for the resumption but also the expansion of accession talks between the EU and Turkey.
He said his country was prepared to talk about issues such as fundamental rights and an independent judiciary within that framework.