German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle is far more opposed to Turkey joining the European Union than he has expressed publicly, the media reported on Saturday, quoting U.S. embassy documents released by WikiLeaks.
A country as large as Turkey could not be integrated into the EU, Mr. Westerwelle reportedly told U.S. counterpart Hillary Rodham Clinton shortly after taking office in 2009.
If Germany had to decide now on Turkish EU accession, the answer would be no, the minister said according to Spiegel news magazine, which is publishing the U.S. diplomatic cables in collaboration with WikiLeaks.
However, this question would only present itself in five or six years, Mr. Westerwelle reportedly said, adding that Turkey was not modern enough to join the EU.
Germany officially advocates a “privileged partnership“for Turkey, rather than full-fledged EU membership. Nevertheless, Mr. Westerwelle and Chancellor Angela Merkel insist that accession talks “must not preclude any outcome.” The U.S. diplomatic dispatch suggested that this may be a tactical stance, to encourage structural reform in Turkey.
In September, Ms. Merkel signalled that she was willing to open new chapters in the accession talks, during a visit by Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan.