ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Wednesday renewed his call to the European Union to make its up mind on whether it wants to continue membership talks with his country or end them, angered by a political debate in Germany that centered on how to deal with Turkey.
Addressing local leaders of his ruling party in the capital Ankara, Erdogan said he would not allow his country to become an "appetizer" for elections in Germany or other European nations.
Erdogan said: "It's up to the EU to take a step. Either they will keep their promise and open the path of the membership process ... or they need to say 'we don't want to continue on the path with Turkey.'"
"If you are not able to tolerate Turkey's relations with the EU, come out and say so honestly and do whatever is necessary," Erdogan said.
In a political debate ahead of this month's German elections, Martin Schulz — Chancellor Angela Merkel's main rival — said he would end talks on Turkey joining the EU because of Erdogan's increasingly authoritarian policies. Merkel, who has previously expressed doubts about Turkey ever joining the EU, said Turkey "is departing from all democratic practices at breakneck speed."
Relations between the two countries have been tense for months, with Turkey accusing Germany of harboring people with alleged links to last year's failed coup against Erdogan as well as outlawed Kurdish militant groups. Berlin has accused Turkey of backsliding on democratic values and is angered by the arrest of 12 German citizens in Turkey for what Berlin considers political reasons.
Erdogan urged ethnic Turks in Germany not to vote for parties that he described as "Turkey's enemies" in the elections, in an apparent reference to Merkel and Schulz's parties.
He also questioned how European leaders — whom he accused of criticizing for electoral gains — would be able to face him after their elections are over.
"The style of politics that pivots around my person is of no benefit to European countries," Erdogan said. "How will they look at my face when tomorrow comes?"