ANKARA: The Turkish economy could be harmed if growing tensions with the bloc, and especially with Germany, get out of hand, said European Union Enlargement Commissioner Johannes Hahn, on the eve of talks in Brussels with senior Turkish officials. Hahn said the country that is a candidate to join the bloc is “slipping away from European values”, Anadolu Agency reported. “I am always concerned if there is an increase of tension between one of our member states or some member states with neighboring countries. I think Turkey should understand the reasons for that and address it,” Hahn told reporters.“We are in the middle of the tourism season; this is certainly not conducive to invite people to come and go there,” he said. “The same applies for investment in the country, if the situation seems to be still very shaky, very unclear, very fragile.” Hahn and EU diplomatic chief Federica Mogherini meet Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu and Turkish EU Affairs Minister Omer Celik on Tuesday amid increasingly sharp exchanges over Ankara’s rights record and a crackdown after last year’s failed coup. Asked about the possible suspension of funding for candidate member countries, Hahn said that while he had a certain amount of “discretion” on the matter, the money could not be halted as long as the accession negotiations remained open. “As long as this decision (to halt accession) has not been taken, these payments must continue,” he said.
Ankara has officially withdrawn a black list of German companies it accused of funding terrorist organizations in Turkey. But the diplomatic row between the two NATO partners continues to rage. Last week it was revealed that Turkey had forwarded to German law enforcement authorities a black list of companies and individuals being investigated for links to the group headed by the US-based preacher Fethullah Gulen, who Ankara blames for Turkey’s failed coup last year.