Thursday

21st Sep 2017

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.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now and get 40% off for an annual subscription. Sale ends soon.

  1. €90 per year. Use discount code EUOBS40%
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

  • 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.

Turkey accuses Merkel of racism

Turkish foreign minister said German chancellor's call to end EU accession talks was "same rhetoric as racist parties".

News in Brief

  1. Le Pen's right-hand man leaves National Front
  2. Spanish PM calls on Catalan leaders to 'stop escalation'
  3. Dutch government to appeal Srebrenica ruling
  4. Verhofstadt: Northern Ireland could stay in single market
  5. Catalan leader decries Spanish government intervention
  6. Hungary set for fresh campaign against public enemy Soros
  7. Iceland's PM leads in polls ahead of October elections
  8. Erdogan demands Iraqi Kurds cancel referendum

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Jewish CongressCommends the German Government for Adopting the Working Definition of Antisemitism
  2. EU2017EEFour Tax Initiatives to Modernise the EU's Tax System
  3. Dialogue PlatformResponsibility in Practice: Gulen & Islamic Thought
  4. Counter BalanceHuman Rights Concerns Over EIB Loan to the Trans Anatolian Pipeline Project
  5. Mission of China to the EUChina Leads the Global Clean Energy Transition
  6. CES - Silicones EuropeFrom Baking Moulds to Oven Mitts, Silicones Are a Key Ingredient in Kitchens
  7. Martens CentreFor a New Europeanism: How to Put the Motto "Unity in Diversity" Into Practice
  8. Access MBAGet Ahead With an MBA Degree. Top MBA Event in Brussels
  9. Idealist QuarterlyIdealist Quarterly Event: Building Fearless Democracies With Gerald Hensel
  10. Mission of China to the EUPresident Xi Urges Bigger Global Role for Emerging Economies
  11. EU2017EEAre We Socially Insured in the Future of Work?
  12. European Jewish CongressFrench Authorities to Root Out "Societal Antisemitism" After Jewish Family Assaulted