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Merkel tells Turkey democratic values 'non-negotiable' for EU

German Chancellor Angela Merkel arrives for the weekly cabinet meeting in Berlin June 26, 2013. REUTERS/Tobias Schwarz
German Chancellor Angela Merkel arrives for the weekly cabinet meeting in Berlin June 26, 2013. REUTERS/Tobias Schwarz

BERLIN (Reuters) - German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Thursday she welcomed an agreement to reopen talks with Turkey about joining the European Union but warned in the light of the crackdown on Turkish anti-government protests that democratic values were non-negotiable.

Merkel told the German parliament that the agreement this week to make progress in Turkey's application for membership conditional on respect for human rights and political reform meant the EU was "not acting as if nothing had happened".

"This outcome makes it clear that Turkey is an important partner but that our European values of the freedom to protest, freedom of opinion, the rule of law and religious freedom, are always valid and are not negotiable," said Merkel.

(Reporting by Stephen Brown; Editing by Gareth Jones)

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