Friday

15th Nov 2019

MEPs cancel Turkey trip as relations sour

  • Kati Piri was scheduled to meet Turkish officials to help bridge a widening diplomatic gap (Photo: Euranet Plus)

EU lawmakers have cancelled a trip to Ankara, days before parliament votes on a non-binding resolution to end Turkey's EU membership talks.

Turkish authorities are intensifying a crackdown against political opposition, Kurdish separatists, media and civil society.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 year's of archives. 30-day free trial.

... or join as a group

  • The post-coup purge has seen thousands of people jailed (Photo: Reuters)

The government says it is an effort to weed out state saboteurs and so-called terrorists, but the EU says Turkey is trampling on the rule of law and democratic processes.

German centre-right Elmar Brok and Dutch socialist Kati Piri were scheduled to meet Turkish officials on Wednesday (16 November) to help bridge a widening diplomatic gap.

Brok heads the parliament's foreign affairs committee and Piri is the assembly's lead negotiator on Turkey.

But Ankara refused to meet Piri, who has accused the authorities of conducting a witch-hunt in the wake of a failed coup aimed at toppling President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

EU parliament chief Martin Schulz said in a statement that it was important for the EU to maintain an open dialogue with Turkey, but not on any condition.

"Mr Brok and Ms Piri represent the European Parliament and we cannot allow a pick-and-choose approach on who speaks to whom," he said.

Schulz told Turkey's EU affairs minister Omer Celik earlier this week that Ankara's purge of alleged associates of Islamic teacher Fethullah Gulen was disproportionate. The exiled cleric has been accused of orchestrating the July coup, a charge he denies.

Turkey has jailed journalists and opposition MPs and dismissed some 100,000 people from their government jobs.

MEPs in Strasbourg next week are set to vote on a non-binding resolution to suspend talks on Turkey's EU membership.

The call follows a critical progress report from the EU commission earlier this month. It appears to be gaining support among big political groups with Manfred Weber, who heads the centre-right EPP, also demanding a freeze in Turkey's membership talks.

Steinmeier visit

Germany's foreign minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier had also met and spoken to Erdogan in Ankara on Tuesday.

Steinmeier hopes to maintain relations with Ankara given an EU migrant-swap deal that has curbed the number of people arriving on Greek islands to claim asylum.

The German minister also said he hoped to restore relations in a visit to defend free press, free expression and civil society.

But his efforts appear have fallen on deaf ears. Erdogan on Wednesday accused Germany of "implicitly or explicitly" supporting Kurdish rebel group PKK.

Turkey's interior ministry, only days ahead of Steinmeier's diplomatic visit, had announced a blanket and arbitrary suspension of 370 NGOs for three months. Those NGOs span from children and women's rights to lawyer associations.

"These arbitrary suspensions violate the rights to freedom of expression and association, and cannot be justified, even under the state of emergency," said Amnesty International.

Erdogan president until 2029

Erdogan now aims to govern the country under an executive presidency until 2029, reports Reuters.

Senior officials told the news agency that Erdogan would try to assume the long-term executive role following a referendum planned for next spring.

An executive presidency would allow him to issue decrees without having to consult parliament.

Turkey's constitution imposes a two-term limit on presidents. Should he win the 2019 election, Erdogan would under normal conditions, have to step down in 2024.

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.

Nato reassures allies on Trump and Erdogan

Nato chief voiced confidence that both the US and Turkey would remain steadfast allies despite Trump's win and Turkey's post-coup anger at Western powers.

News in Brief

  1. Catalan politicians extradition hearing postponed
  2. Germany: EU banking union deal possible in December
  3. EIB: no more funding of fossil-fuel projects
  4. UK defence chief: Russia could trigger World War III
  5. Hungary's Varhelyi will face more questions
  6. Police put former Berlusconi MEP Comi under house arrest
  7. MEPs criticise Poland for criminalising sex education
  8. UK will not name new commissioner before election

Opinion

EU report recognises Albania's achievements

Albania currently faces a serious crisis, which it would be foolish for all actors in the international community to ignore. Yet we must ask that our partners in Europe read Federica Mogherini's report carefully and recognise accomplishments.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersEarmarked paternity leave – an effective way to change norms
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Climate Action Weeks in December
  3. UNESDAUNESDA welcomes Nicholas Hodac as new Director General
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersBrussels welcomes Nordic culture
  5. UNESDAUNESDA appoints Nicholas Hodac as Director General
  6. UNESDASoft drinks industry co-signs Circular Plastics Alliance Declaration
  7. FEANIEngineers Europe Advisory Group: Building the engineers of the future
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNew programme studies infectious diseases and antibiotic resistance
  9. UNESDAUNESDA reduces added sugars 11.9% between 2015-2017
  10. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Uzbekistan Human Rights Dialogue: EU to raise key fundamental rights issues
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNo evidence that social media are harmful to young people
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersCanada to host the joint Nordic cultural initiative 2021

Latest News

  1. Key moments for new commission This WEEK
  2. EU threatens legal action against UK over commissioner
  3. Corruption in the Balkans: the elephant in the room
  4. Green MEPs unconvinced by Romanian commissioner
  5. EU states fell short on sharing refugees, say auditors
  6. Hungary's commissioner-to-be grilled over loyalty to Orban
  7. Widow's plea as EU diplomats debate Magnitsky Act
  8. Leftist MEPs call on EU to address crisis in Chile

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  3. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  4. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  5. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  6. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  11. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  12. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us