Friday

7th May 2021

Turkey has stopped me from going home, says Erdogan critic

  • Lagendijk in 2011 (Photo: Medya Dernegi)

A former Green MEP who has been critical of Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been denied entry into Turkey.

Dutchman Joost Lagendijk, who now lives in Istanbul, said on Twitter on Sunday (25 September) that Turkish authorities had stopped him on his way back from the Netherlands and that he was “not allowed in”.

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

The author and former chairman of the parliament's EU-Turkey delegation added he needed to apply for a special visa in the Netherlands.

“Hope it is only a bureaucratic obstacle and not a decision to block me forever,” he wrote.

The incident occurred just days after Dutch newspaper AD published an interview in which Lagendijk discussed the possibility of being expelled from Turkey in future.

He has just finished a book, titled Erdogan: Absolute Ruler of the New Turkey.

“I want to grow old here,” he said about Turkey, where he married a Turkish journalist in 2006.

“But if I were to receive a gag order, we would have to think about what we will do. The ultimate penalty would be to expel me. It would be naive to think that cannot happen to me.”

The leader of the Dutch green party, Jesse Klaver, called on the Dutch government to put pressure on the Turkish government “so that Joost can be with his loved one in Turkey quickly”.

Until recently, Lagendijk had been a teacher at the Suleyman Shah university in Istanbul. The university was one of 15 that was shut down by the authorities after the attempted coup in July for alleged ties to the movement of the exiled cleric Fethullah Gulen.

“Some colleagues were supporters of Gulen, many of them had nothing to do with him,” said Lagendijk in the AD interview, published last Friday.

“At the faculty of international relations, where I taught, books of Gulen were explicitly banned. They wanted to avoid the impression the university had anything to do with Gulen.”

The former MEP said he may have underestimated “the dark side” of the Gulen movement, but also criticised Erdogan.

In an article published in EUobserver last year, Lagendijk called Erdogan “the de facto dominating force that does not accept criticism or checks and balances on his power”.

Lagendijk had also been a columnist for newspapers Zaman and Today's Zaman, which were seized by government authorities in March.

The former politician was an MEP from 1998 to 2009. Current co-leader of the Green group Rebecca Harms called Lagendijk “a true friend of Turkey in the European Parliament”.

Lagendijk quit the EU parliament in 2009 after two terms because he felt he had achieved what he could. When announcing he would not stand again, he told Dutch media he had become the face of the European Union in Turkey.

"People recognise me in the street, and they tell me they think I did a good job," he said in 2009.

The move comes amidst worries about future EU-Turkey relations, and increased authoritarianism in the candidate member state.

Gulen faithful at work in EU capital

Persecuted in Turkey as the alleged authors of the July putsch, the followers of Islamic teacher Fethullah Gulen are highly active in the EU capital.

Analysis

Erdogan down but not out

Turkey’s voters have shown they don't want to be ruled by one man, slowly shifting away from Europe.

EU-Turkey relations plunge to new low

Turkey has jailed opposition MPs, accused Germany of sheltering terrorists, and threatened, once again, to scrap the EU migrant deal.

News in Brief

  1. Israel study: Two Pfizer doses give over 95% protection
  2. Barnier calls Johnson a 'bulldozer' in Brexit memoirs
  3. Hungary and Poland prevent 'gender' in summit declaration
  4. Draghi: Italy to welcome foreign tourists from mid-May
  5. Germany announces new, stricter, emission cuts
  6. Channel Islands 'blockade' threat in UK and France row
  7. French reporter kidnapped by rebels in Mali
  8. Trump's Facebook ban upheld but with caveats

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 MinistersNordic Council enters into formal relations with European Parliament
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersWomen more active in violent extremist circles than first assumed
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersDigitalisation can help us pick up the green pace
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersCOVID19 is a wake-up call in the fight against antibiotic resistance
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic Region can and should play a leading role in Europe’s digital development
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council to host EU webinars on energy, digitalisation and antibiotic resistance

Latest News

  1. Greek prisons accused of abusing detainees
  2. EU and US join up against China on Taiwan
  3. Conservatives' Covid-strategy wins in lockdown-fatigue Madrid
  4. Commission drafts new rules targeting foreign state aid
  5. Why Europe should stop worrying about 'sportswashing'
  6. Conference on Future of Europe must listen to local voices
  7. What happens now to the EU's post-Covid recovery fund?
  8. EU turns from China to India on free trade

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us