World

Erdogan seeks support from Turks abroad

BERLIN (AP) — Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan sought support from the largest Turkish diaspora community for his ruling party Tuesday, ahead of upcoming presidential elections.

Speaking to a crowd of several thousand at Berlin's Tempodrom arena, Erdogan denied recent allegations of corruption and cited the economic progress Turkey has made under his leadership over the past decade.

Some 3 million people with family ties to Turkey live in Germany, and about half of them are believed to hold Turkish passports, making them potential voters in this year's presidential elections. Hours earlier Erdogan met with German Chancellor Angela Merkel to discuss his country's progress in joining the European Union.

Merkel told reporters afterward that she supports opening the sections of Turkey's membership negotiations that address justice and human rights "as soon as possible." Those sections are particularly sensitive at the moment because of Turkey's crackdown last year against opposition groups, and a recent corruption scandal that resulted in the replacement of police officials involved in the investigation.

Turkish news reports said this move by Erdogan thwarted a second probe that sought to question his son and other people. Turkey's talks on joining the 28-nation EU began in 2005 but are barely moving — mainly due to Turkey's dispute with EU member Cyprus and unease among some in the bloc about admitting a populous, largely Muslim country.

Merkel has long opposed full Turkish EU membership, but she has governed since 2005 in a series of coalitions that were divided over the issue. Her government's policy is to support the talks but stress that membership isn't a foregone conclusion.

"This process is open in terms of results and is not time-limited," she said Tuesday. "We will move forward step by step. It is no secret, and nothing has changed in my position, that I am rather skeptical about full membership for Turkey," she said. "But that doesn't need to bother us at this point."

Merkel's third-term government recently agreed to relax citizenship laws for Turks born in Germany so that they don't have to choose between Turkish and German passports by their 23rd birthday. On Tuesday, the two leaders announced that Turks in Germany will be able to take part in August's Turkish presidential elections at polling stations in seven German cities.

Suzan Fraser in Ankara, Turkey, contributed to this report.

Related Headlines

  • Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Emine Erdogan

    Turkish PM Erdogan seeks a move to the presidency

    Turkey's ruling party on Tuesday nominated Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan to run in Turkey's first directly elected presidential race in August, announcing his candidacy ... 

  • Recep Tayyip Erdogan

    Poll: Turks divided on Erdogan before election

    Turks are divided on how they feel about Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan ahead of his bid to become president in an upcoming election, and about their country's direction, ... 

  • Recep Tayyip Erdogan

    Turkish attempt to ban Twitter appears to backfire

    Turkey's attempt to block access to Twitter appeared to backfire on Friday with many tech-savvy users circumventing the ban and suspicions growing that the prime minister was ... 

  • Twitter app

    Turkey blocks access to Twitter

    Turkey restricted access to Twitter on Friday hours after Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan threatened to "root out" the social media network where wiretapped recordings ... 

Find your future job here