19th Mar 2018

Germany criticises Turkish PM ahead of EU visit

  • Erdogan (r) and Barroso in 2009: There is talk the Turkish PM might visit Brussels, again, and Berlin, next month (Photo: European Commission)

Germany has said that Turkey’s crackdown on the police and judiciary is putting EU accession talks at risk.

Its foreign minister, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, said he discussed the situation with his EU peers at a meeting in Brussels on Monday (20 January).

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He told press: "There are numerous questions to which the Europeans have not received any replies.”

“Demanding that Turkey returns to the rule of law is not just something that can be done, but it's something that has to be done,” he noted.

“Today nobody said that the perspective of opening new chapters should be taken back, but such a debate will not be avoided if there are no satisfying answers,” he added.

Steinmeier spoke shortly before Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan landed in the EU capital for his first visit since 2009.

Germany last year forgave him for police violence against pro-democracy protests in Istanbul.

It agreed to restart Turkey’s EU accesion talks.

Its decision also prompted the European Commission to lean on Cyprus to lift its veto on opening two new negotiating “chapters.”

But Erdogan shocked Europe in December by launching a crackdown on policemen and judges who tried to investigate corruption in his inner circle.

He says they are part of a conspiracy organised by Fethullah Gulen, an Islamic guru living in the US.

His line has little sympathy in Brussels, however.

“It reminds me of Communist-era eastern Europe, where authoritarian leaders always blamed unrest on foreign plots,” one EU official told this website.

Erdogan will on Tuesday hold four meetings with top EU officials and leading MEPs.

He has jailed dozens of journalists in Turkey.

But he plans to field questions at a brief press conference alongside European Commission chief Jose Manuel Barroso and EU Council chief Herman Van Rompuy.

His foreign minister, Ahmet Davutoglu, on Sunday gave a foretaste of what the PM might say.

On one hand, Davutoglu struck a conciliatory note. "If there is anything that stands contradictory to EU standards, we will listen to this,” he told press in Ankara.

But he indicated that Erdogan is ready to hit back.

“We will [also] ask one by one how the situation [on judicial independence] is in Europe, in Spain, in France,” he added.

Erdogan himself said: "We will continue with this step we have taken … God willing, the game of this treacherous [Gulen] network will be destroyed."


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