Tuesday

20th Oct 2020

EU silence on Turkey abuses is 'shameful'

EU stoicism in the face of Turkey's crackdown on journalists and opposition is shameful, says the chief editor of Turkey's opposition daily Cumhuriyet.

"Unfortunately the leaders of the EU have not been raising their voices about this authoritarianism in Turkey because of the agreement about refugees," said Can Dundar in Brussels on Tuesday (14 June).

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

Dundar, along with colleague Erdem Gul, faced life sentences after a publishing an article last May that showed how Turkey's national intelligence agency was illegally supplying weapons to jihadists inside Syria.

"Turkey has been supporting radical Islamist groups for several years and we had been writing about this for several months and finally we had the proof," he said.

Turkey ranks among the world's worst nations for press freedom, ranked at 151 out 180 countries on the Reporters without Borders index. More than 30 journalists are now in jail.

"They [EU] prefer the price of our freedom for an agreement on refugees. I think this is shameful and I've said this from the very beginning," he said.

Dundar told journalists that the EU and its leadership had reduced refugees to a numbers game at the expense of supporting a large population of Turkish nationals who want to break free of president Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

His criticism against the EU appears, in part, justified.

Resignations and migration deals

On Tuesday (14 June), the EU's top envoy to Turkey, Hansjoerg Haber, resigned following remarks he made last month that had infuriated Erdogan.

The EU commission refused to comment on the reasons for his resignation.

"We as the European Union continue to work with Turkey, Turkey is a key partner," EU commission spokeswoman Maja Kocijancic said when pressed.

And on Monday, Preben Aamann, spokesman for EU council chief Donald Tusk, said in a tweet that the sharp drop in migrants arriving in Greece is "hard evidence that EU strategy on migration works".

More than one million people arrived last year to seek international protection in the EU. Of those, some 850,000 landed on the Greek islands after crossing the Aegean from Turkey. Few make the boat journey today following an 18 March deal between the EU and Ankara.

Keeping those numbers low and the special attention given to Turkish rank and file by the likes of Germany's chancellor Angela Merkel appears to have emboldened Erdogan to further tighten his grip on power.

MPs immunity lifted

He replaced the more moderate prime minister Ahmet Davutoglu with Binali Yildirim, a close ally.

Yildirim said on Tuesday that Ankara would not change its anti-terrorism laws, despite EU-level threats to maintain visa restrictions on Turkish nationals.

Erdogan is using the anti-terrorism laws to jail critics.

Earlier this month, he lifted the immunity of dozens of MPs after signing a controversial bill.

The vast majority of the files against Turkish politicians target the opposition with many facing jail for either insulting the president or for vague affiliations to Kurdish separatists.

Why Erdogan made a U-turn on EU visas

Turkish leader Erdogan needs to look and act tough on terror to cement power at home. Former PM Davutoglu, who brokered the EU visa deal, also taken down a peg.

Opinion

Erdogan, prince of Europe, took my newspaper Zaman

After the forced takeover of Zaman, a daily critical of Turkey's president, its Brussels correspondent Selcuk Gultasli was told to stop writing. He asks the EU not to bargain with its values.

Column

A 'geopolitical' EU Commission. Great idea - but when?

Safeguarding Europe's position starts with recognising the unpleasant reality that Europe's power is waning. Behind the facade of European cooperation, national self-interest still predominates and that has never been any different.

Rightwing MEPs bend to Saudi will after Khashoggi death

Saudi dissident and journalist Jamal Khashoggi was killed two years ago on 2 October. Since then, mainly centre-right, conservative and far-right MEPs have voted down any moves to restrict, limit or ban the sales of weapons to the Saudi regime.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDAMaking healthier diets the easy choice
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersUN Secretary General to meet with Nordic Council on COVID-19
  3. UNESDAWell-designed Deposit Return Schemes can help reach Single-Use Plastics Directive targets
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council meets Belarusian opposition leader Svetlana Tichanovskaja
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region to invest DKK 250 million in green digitalised business sector
  6. UNESDAReducing packaging waste – a huge opportunity for circularity

Latest News

  1. EU money used by neo-Nazi to promote Holocaust denial
  2. Over 80% of Europe's habitats in poor or bad condition
  3. EU's Brexit move could end deadlock in talks
  4. EU's migrants more at risk from coronavirus
  5. Baltics pin hopes on Biden
  6. France marks trauma of history teacher's murder
  7. Spain's Sanchez in storm over judicial appointments bill
  8. Violating promises and law, von der Leyen tests patience

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us