The German government under ex-Chancellor Helmut Kohl from 1982 to 1998 played both sides in Türkiye’s joining the European Union by supporting it publicly and thwarting it in secret, according to German media citing now-declassified documents.
Confidential papers dating from 1992, also published by the Institute of Contemporary History in Munich, prove the suspicion of deception in Kohl’s federal government’s attitude where it supported Türkiye’s accession to the EU’s predecessor, the European Community (EC), in public but secretly worked to prevent it, a Der Spiegel report said.
When Kohl’s foreign minister, Klaus Kinkel, assured that Türkiye was a part of Europe and that they “wanted to be there,” Der Spiegel wrote, “Not a word is true.”
In 1992, Kinkel explained to his Turkish counterpart Hikmet Çetin that the Federal Government was aware of Türkiye’s attempts for a full EC membership and would “support it in this goal and on the way there.”
“The impression that Europeans no longer want Türkiye and that it is being relegated to a secondary role is wrong, despite the considerable amount of problems to be taken care of.”
Just three days later, Kohl revealed to Norwegian Prime Minister Gro Harlem Brundtland during his visit to Oslo that there was significant pressure from Türkiye due to wanting full membership. Still, according to the papers, “We are against it.”
Per the papers citing Kohl’s words, Türkiye “cannot become a member” because it belongs “in another dimension.”
In November 1992, Kohl also assured the then-prime minister of Poland, Hanna Suchocka, that from Germany’s perspective, Türkiye’s full membership in the EU was “inconceivable.”
He also scoffed at party friends discussing the issue, saying he “didn’t know from geography class that Anatolia is part of Europe.”
Kohl frequently tried to defend himself against the claims that he was anti-Turkish, as his son Peter is married to a Turkish woman.
In regional politics, Kohl is suspected of having overtly expressed a negative attitude toward the Turkish government regarding EC membership. However, this is also suspected not to have occurred during his chancellorship.
Türkiye has the longest history with the union and the most extended negotiation process. The country signed an association agreement with the European Economic Community (EEC) in 1964, usually regarded as a first step to eventually becoming a candidate. However, applying for official candidacy in 1987, Türkiye had to wait until 1999 to be granted the status of a candidate country. For the start of the negotiations, however, Türkiye had to wait for another six years, until 2005, a uniquely long process compared with other candidates.
The accession process seems stalled in recent years, particularly due to several disputes, including tensions in the Eastern Mediterranean with Greece, Türkiye’s role in Syria and the migrant crisis.
German-Turkish relations began in the times of the Ottoman Empire that only developed into warmer ties in the following decades, especially with Germany housing the biggest Turkish diaspora in Europe and being Türkiye’s biggest trade partner in the bloc.
However, Ankara has recently grown frustrated with what it considers an “imbalanced position” Berlin holds regarding its disagreements with archrival Greece, as well as the tolerance of members and supporters of the PKK terrorist group and an uptick in Islamophobia.
Turkish officials frequently call on the EU to lift political obstacles to membership.
Source : Daily Sabah