Merkel Gives No Ground on Refugees in TV Debate With Schulz

Merkel Gives No Ground on Refugees in TV Debate With Schulz

Merkel Gives No Ground on Refugees in TV Debate With Schulz

In a sharp escalation of an already intensifying diplomatic crisis between two North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies with longstanding historical links, Merkel said: "It is clear that Turkey should not become a member of the European Union".

Why did Merkel U-turn on Turkey?

Both candidates have run lackluster campaigns so far, prompting yawns from political commentators, with Germany's respected news weekly Der Spiegel depicting Merkel on its front page Saturday asleep in a boxing ring, with a tiny Schulz standing timidly behind her and the headline "Wake up!"

At the air quality "summit" on Monday, Merkel has said she will suggest a compromise solution where the most polluted municipalities could get funding to speed up the development of e-car charging stations and better public transport.

The plunge in relations began after Berlin sharply criticised Ankara over the crackdown that followed last year's failed coup attempt.

"The fact is clear that Turkey should not become an European Union member", said Ms Merkel, in an unprecedentedly clear rejection of Ankara's accession hopes.

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Her overall performance was viewed as more convincing by 55%, compared to 35% for Mr Schulz, in a survey by Infratest Dimap for ARD television.

The exchange over Turkey was the high point of a wide-ranging debate in which Mr Schulz attacked Ms Merkel with surprising force over Turkey and also over refugee policy.

"The fact is clear that Turkey should not become a member of the EU", the Christian Democratic Union party leader said. In another poll for ARD television, Merkel emerged as the clear victor - 55 percent of respondents said she was the more convincing, while only 35 percent held that view about Schulz.

During their 90-minute debate, four seasoned TV presenters tossed wide-ranging questions to the two top politicians, ranging from Germany's migration crisis to relations with US President Donald Trump to pensions. But Mrs Merkel insisted Germany had been faced with a "very dramatic situation" and had no choice but to act.

However, Mrs Merkel returned to the issue later on in the debate, making a u-turn by promising to end the negotiations.

"Whether we slam the door shut or Turkey does that is something we'll have to see", she said, adding that any move would need to be coordinated with other European countries.

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