Sigmar Gabriel, the German vice chancellor and the Social Democrats Party (SDP) chairman, said on Sunday that he does not think Turkey is likely to become a full EU member in the next decade or two. Commenting on Gabriel's statement after the Cabinet meeting on Monday, Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmuş slammed the SDP leader saying that he should rather think about where the EU will be in 20 years instead of commenting on whether Turkey will be a member or not. Speaking to German public broadcaster ARD, Gabriel said that he disapproves of the recent speculations about halting Turkey's ongoing EU accession talks. "I don't believe that Turkey in the foreseeable future – and I'm talking about the next 10, 20 years – has the chance to become an EU member," Gabriel said, adding: "We should keep the communication channels open with Turkey."
Remarking that Turkey cannot become a member right now even if it fulfills all the required criteria, Gabriel said: "The reason why is that the EU is currently not able to accept even a small country as a member, let alone Turkey.
"The dream of becoming a member of the EU is nonsense for anyone, such a thing will not happen," he added.
Gabriel warned that if the death sentence is reinstated in Turkey then membership negotiations would be a different story. Laying down that the approval of capital punishment would be against the main principles of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, he said: "In such a scenario, membership negotiations with Turkey would lose their meaning."
German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier on Friday resisted a push from Austria to halt Turkey's accession talks to join the European Union, saying the bloc needed to think more broadly about how to frame its relationship with Ankara in troubled times. Steinmeier said their close political, economic and human ties mean both sides should find a way forward as neighbors, rather than focusing solely on the timing of accession talks, which he said were "as good as deadlocked." European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker on Thursday also rejected Austria's call for the EU to end membership talks with Ankara, warning that it would be a grave error.