Just weeks before an election in Germany, Chancellor Angela Merkel made a bold pledge on Sunday, that Turkey should not become an EU member, in a live TV debate with her opponent Martin Schulz.>>
> I was never in favor of Turkey joining the EU, and now I will reflect carefully on the options.
I'm immediately in favor of stopping aid, but whether we close the door, or whether Turkey does, we will have to see.>> Her comments coming after her challenger was the first to say he would break off the talks if he won the parliamentary poll on September 24th. Merkel initially cautioned against such a move, saying it would be irresponsible to endanger ties with Turkey, at a time when Germans are in prisons there.
12 German citizens are currently in Turkish detention on political charges, 4 of them hold dual citizenship. The comments are likely to worsen already strained ties between the two NATO allies that have deepened since Turkish President Tayyip Erdoğan's crackdown on opponents following an attempted coup last year. The exchange over Turkey was the high point of a wide-ranging debate.
But Schultz also focused on domestic policy, attacking the Chancellor over her decision in 2015 to keep Germany's borders open for asylum seekers. Merkel responded, saying she'd simply implemented the first article of the German constitution, which upholds human rights. While viewers were impressed with Schulz's aggression, they judged their current chancellor the overall winner.
Some 55% of those polled for ARD Television found Merkel more convincing, against 35% for Schultz.