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Merkel wants end to Turkey's European Union accession talks

04 September 2017

During the election debates, broadcast by ARD, German Chancellor Merkel and Chief of the German Social Democratic Party Schulz have criticized the decision of the former Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder to work in Russian oil company Rosneft.

The exchanges came with 12 German citizens now under arrest in Turkey in a crackdown by Mr Erdogan on regime critics and journalists that is widely seen in the European Union as politically-motivated and anti-democratic.

"I'll speak to my Europen Union colleagues to see if we can reach a joint position on this so that we can end these accession talks", added Merkel, who is hoping to get re-elected for a fourth term.

That gave Mr Schulz, who has repeatedly accused Mrs Merkel of dodging the issues, the chance to pin his opponent down.

But, while viewers were impressed with his aggression, they judged Ms Merkel the overall victor of the encounter. More than half of viewers, 55 percent, named Merkel the victor, according to an ARD poll.

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"Integration is not something that happens on paper", Schulz said.

Merkel, invited by a moderator to cite the values she shares with Trump, did not directly answer, and instead referred to climate change and responses to the race-fueled violence in Charlottesville as areas where there are "very clearly major differences".

Schulz said at the TV duel that if he becomes German Chancellor, he will stop accession talks with Turkey.

Merkel called for cooperation with Turkey, Libya, Niger and other countries in solving refugee and immigration issues, and in the meantime opening channels for legal immigration.

She said: "I do not intend to break off diplomatic relations with Turkey".

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There was no immediate reaction from Turkey which is in the midst of a national religious holiday.

In her pitch to voters, Merkel touted her 12 years of experience as the leader of Europe's biggest economy, citing Germany's low unemployment rate and pledging not to raise the pension age to 70.

On perhaps the most controversial episode of Merkel's tenure - her handling of the refugee crisis - Schulz insisted that he would have worked more closely with European allies.

Germany will also look at imposing "real restrictions on economic contact" with Turkey, as well as possibly issuing a tougher travel warning against travel to the country, she said.

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Merkel wants end to Turkey's European Union accession talks