Friday

10th Apr 2020

Police brutality threatens restart of EU-Turkey talks

  • Police using water cannon and tear gas in Taksim area, istanbul (Photo: Alan Hilditch)

French, German and EU officials have criticised Turkey after a week of "shocking" police violence.

Markus Loning, the human rights supremo in Germany's foreign ministry, said in a statement on Thursday (6 June): "The large number of people who have been arrested and injured is shocking. I urge the Turkish government to end its inappropriate violence."

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

He said Ankara should "immediately free" detained protesters, whom he described as exercising "their fundamental rights of freedom of expression and assembly."

He also said police should free people detained for Tweeting about the events.

French EU affairs minister Thierry Repentin was even more outspoken.

"Police repression has caused two deaths, 2,000 injuries and 1,700 temporary arrests - it's too much. No democracy can be built on the repression of people who try to express themselves in the street. The right to protest, to oppose the government, must be respected," he said in the French senate also on Thursday, AFP reports.

He noted the developments could harm plans to restart EU-Turkey accession talks.

He recalled that France recently "made a gesture" by calling for the opening of a new chapter in the negotiations.

"This action should not be one-sided," he said.

EU enlargement commissioner Stefan Fuele issued a similar warning.

Fuele, who met with protest organisers in Istanbul's Taksim square on Thursday, said afterward that "re-energising the EU accession process and supporting democracy and fundamental rights are two sides of the same coin."

The commissioner is in town for a previously planned conference with Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Turkey's EU bid.

Demonstrations began in Taksim last Friday over plans by a government-linked firm, the Kalyon Group, to build a shopping mall on top of a park and a historic army barracks.

They quickly spread to other cities.

They also widened into a backlash against Erdogan's heavy-handed rule and against his Islamist AKP party's erosion of secularist laws.

For his part, Erdogan set the stage for further escalation on Friday despite the EU warnings.

Flying back from a tour of north Africa for the Fuele meeting, he told a crowd of 10,000-or-so AKP supporters at the airport: "These protests are bordering on illegality [and] must come to an end now."

He added that the Istanbul park will still be torn down.

His foreign minister, Ahmet Davutoglu, has also voiced defiance.

Davuotglu told Turkish media Turkey is "not a second class democracy" and will not tolerate foreign tutelage after US secretary of state John Kerry complained about police tactics in a phone call.

EU-Turkey accession talks stalled three years ago, in part due to Turkey's frozen conflict with Cyprus, but also due to broader French and German scepticism.

French and German leaders in February called for the talks to restart.

EU Council chief Herman Van Rompuy in Ankara in May also invited Erdogan to come to Brussels to mark the "new impetus" in bilateral ties.

'Turkish Spring' tests Erdogan's rule

Violent clashes between protestors and police in Turkey have seen its Prime Minister deny accusations he is becoming a "dictator."

Opinion

The future of European Turkey

The time has come for Turkish President Abdullah Gul to show statesmanship and speak out clearly and forcefully against the abuse of power.

News in Brief

  1. Migrants trapped on boat in Tripoli due to shelling
  2. EU anti-crisis budget 'could be up to €1.5 trillion'
  3. Western Balkan states appeal for EU help with masks
  4. Spain's lockdown could be extended until 10 May
  5. IMF: Pandemic crisis will be worse than great depression
  6. German economy minister expects progress on EU deal
  7. Italian PM: EU is at risk if no deal on recovery plan
  8. Belgian region to block EU Green Deal

EU to publish new enlargement method

EU hopefuls will know more about the hoops they will have to jump through in future when the European Commission publishes its new "enlargement methodology" this week.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDAMaking Europe’s Economy Circular – the time is now
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersScottish parliament seeks closer collaboration with the Nordic Council
  3. UNESDAFrom Linear to Circular – check out UNESDA's new blog
  4. Nordic Council of Ministers40 years of experience have proven its point: Sustainable financing actually works
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Baltic ministers paving the way for 5G in the region
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersEarmarked paternity leave – an effective way to change norms

Latest News

  1. How the EU's virus-alert agency failed
  2. Flemish nationalists torpedo Belgium Green Deal pledge
  3. Eurozone agreed €500bn cushion against virus blow
  4. Why Europe must act now, and on a big scale
  5. EU court blocks Poland's bid to 'frighten' judges
  6. Coronavirus sees approval-rating soar for EU leaders
  7. EU science chief who 'quit' had been told to resign
  8. EU delays 'exit strategies' plan, as WHO urges caution

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us