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Turkish minister says EU to focus on updating customs union

Turkish minister says EU to focus on updating customs union

In parliament last month, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Ankara's arrest and treatment of Deniz Yucel was "incompatible with a constitutional state" and also warned Turkey to respect civil rights in keeping with a constitutional state.

Germany allowed Turks to vote last month in a referendum that endorsed broad new powers for President Tayyip Erdogan. Erdogan accused Germany of acting like "Nazis" and "fascists" as several German cities banned rallies to drum up support of the plebiscite among Turks living in Germany.

"We usually don't answer hypothetical questions, but this question is unfortunately not so hypothetical as it is being discussed in Turkey", Merkel told broadcaster WDR on Tuesday.

"We will not give permission for something we are not obligated to do, and whose content we absolutely reject, for example, the death penalty", she added.

Embassies and consulates enjoy certain privileges under the 1961 Vienna Convention and Turkey would very likely want to hold voting on their premises to reach some 1.5 million expatriate Turkish voters.

European Union ties with Turkey have been strained to breaking point by a massive crackdown following a failed July coup against President Erdogan.

Unconfirmed media reports said successful applicants included numerous Turkish military personnel and their families holding diplomatic passports.

"The consequences of the failed coup attempts were taken into consideration, especially for those in the political opposition", a ministry spokesperson said.

"I personally believe that achieving stronger economic relations between Turkey and Germany, with a more solid base and a comprehensive structure, will also become an important instrument for the solution of existing problems", he said. "But the referendum decision and political developments are of great concern, obviously", Germany's Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere also commented on the matter, according to Reuters.

Speaking at a news conference in Berlin, Foreign Ministry spokesman Martin Schaefer underlined that Turkey and Germany continue to share common interests in defense and security matters. "Our country, which historically, geographically and culturally was part of Europe for centuries, has the desire to continue the process of accession to the European Union, which it considers to be a strategic aim, based on reciprocal respect, quality and the concept of win-win", Erdogan said.