Merkel warns of challenges at home and abroad

Berlin: Chancellor Angela Merkel warned ahead of this month’s election of the challenges facing Germany, with its key car industry hit by a crisis over diesel and as tensions with Turkey and North Korea reshape Berlin’s international agenda.
Speaking on Tuesday at the last session of parliament before the September 24 election, Merkel called on Europe to remain united in the face of provocations from Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and to play a more active role in ending the conflict over North Korea’s nuclear programme.
“Europe has an important voice in the world and must use this voice in the (North Korean) situation,” said Merkel, whose conservative Christian Democrats (CDU) and their Bavarian-based sister party, the Christian Social Union (CSU), have built up a commanding lead in opinion polls in the run-up to the election.
After speaking with both South Korean President Moon Jae In and US President Donald Trump to discuss the threat posed by North Korea, Merkel told the Bundestag that EU foreign ministers would meet in Germany at the weekend.
The chancellor also called on Europe to remain united in its dealings with Turkey amid what she said were moves by Berlin to overhaul its ties with Ankara following a deterioration in the German-Turkish relationship.
“Nothing would be more striking than if we publicly disagreed on the question of future dealings with Turkey in the eyes of President Erdogan,” the chancellor told lawmakers.
“This would dramatically weaken Europe’s position,” Merkel said, with the detention of at least 10 German citizens on political charges in Turkey overshadowing the final weeks of Germany’s election campaign.
The chancellor said that she planned to use the European Union leaders’ summit in October to discuss future relations with Turkey, which would also include calling off negotiations over Ankara’s membership of the Brussels-based bloc.
Merkel has been forced to raise again the issue of ending EU membership talks with Turkey after her centre-left Social Democratic Party (SPD) challenger Martin Schulz said during Sunday’s debate between the two contenders that he would drop the negotiations if he wins the election.
She once again scolded the carmakers involved in cheating on emissions tests. — dpa

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