Saturday

23rd Oct 2021

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

Become an expert on Europe

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. Russia's anti-vax campaign backfired, EU says
  2. China angered as MEPs call for Taiwan talks
  3. Emissions from La Palma volcano reach Brussels
  4. Body of eighth victim of Belarus border-crisis found in river
  5. Report: Syrian bank fiddling currency to evade EU sanctions
  6. Nato adopts plan to counter new Russian threats
  7. Alleged killer of British MP 'felt affiliated' to IS
  8. Coronavirus: Belgium returns to 'red' zone

Opinion

Montenegro's membership can inspire the European Dream

Today (15 December) I come to Brussels with a simple purpose: to present the credentials of my country, Montenegro, to become the next member state of the European Union, writes prime minister Zdravko Krivokapic.

Interview

Does North Macedonia really exist?

Its language and history give North Macedonia its identity for president Stevo Pendarovski, but, for Bulgaria, neither of them are real, in a dispute holding up EU enlargement.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNew report reveals bad environmental habits
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersImproving the integration of young refugees
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNATO Secretary General guest at the Session of the Nordic Council
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersCan you love whoever you want in care homes?
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNineteen demands by Nordic young people to save biodiversity
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersSustainable public procurement is an effective way to achieve global goals

Latest News

  1. EU states want more Belarus sanctions
  2. Gas price spike exposes rift at EU summit
  3. Poland vows not to give into EU 'blackmail' at summit
  4. EU vows to uphold Paris climate ambition amid scientists' fears
  5. Commissions's new migration pact still seeking 'landing zone'
  6. Europe can't ignore Chinese encroachment in Ukraine
  7. Lithuania - where 'biodiversity funding' is cutting down trees
  8. Dutch lawyers take Frontex to EU court over pushbacks

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us