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Schulz and Merkel call for an end to Turkey’s EU membership negotiations

Istanbul - A spokesman for Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan lashed out at Germany on Monday, saying that Chancellor Angela Merkel and her challenger Martin Schulz had attacked Turkey in a televised debate in order to distract from problems at home.

Ibrahim Kalin released a series of tweets alleging that Merkel and Schulz had attempted in Sunday's debate to avoid addressing issues such as "discrimination and racism" in Germany.

Kalin interpreted this as a sign of European short-sightedness. He accused Berlin of supporting "putschists and terrorists," in what have become familiar accusations in the row between the two sides.

In favour of ending Turkey's EU membership negotiations

Schulz and Merkel clashed during the debate over the issue of Turkey and refugees, with both politicians calling for an end to Turkey's EU membership negotiations.

Merkel said that she was in favour of suspending pre-accession financial assistance to Turkey, which amounts to some 600 million euros (713 million dollars) per year.

During a press conference on Monday, German government spokesman Steffen Seibert reiterated Merkel's position that accession talks were "effectively on ice" and that officially ending them would be discussed with European partners in October.

Relations between the two sides - and in particular between Ankara and Berlin - have deteriorated amid Erdogan's increasingly authoritarian leadership.