June 24 - Germany has proposed pushing back a new round of European Union membership talks with Turkey to signal displeasure at Ankara's handling of anti-government protests. As Joanna Partridge reports the EU had originally been planning to breathe new life into Turkey's EU ambitions.
Protests erupted again in Istanbul's Taksim Square at the weekend. Riot police fired water cannon to disperse thousands of anti-government demonstrators. Earlier, Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan told supporters the weeks of often violent protests had played into the hands of Turkey's enemies. (SOUNDBITE) (Turkish) TURKISH PRIME MINISTER TAYYIP ERDOGAN, SAYING: "We want an end to this, we expect to see the end of the attacks against police and to this illegal, unethical behaviour and actions." Several weeks of clashes have left four people dead and some 7500 injured. They've also had an impact on the predominantly Muslim country's ambitions to join the European Union. Germany has proposed pushing back a new round of membership talks with Turkey by around four months - to signal the EU's displeasure at Ankara's handling of the demonstrations. Berlin has given its proposal to Ireland, current holder of the EU presidency, to discuss with member states. It had been due to start a new round of talks with Turkey on Wednesday about possible membership - the first time since 2010. Guido Westerwelle is Germany's Foreign Minister. (SOUNDBITE) (German) GERMAN FOREIGN MINISTER, GUIDO WESTERWELLE, SAYING: "On the one hand we can't pretend that negotiations take place in a vacuum as if the last days didn't happen. On the other hand, we should also make sure that our joint long term strategic interests are protected." Turkey's negotiations to join the EU have been painfully slow. Its supporters say its fast-growing economy, youthful population of 76 million and diplomatic clout would bolster the EU. But any further delay in the talks is likely to cast doubt on whether Turkey will ever be let in to the European club.