Thursday

13th Dec 2018

Turkey won't reform terrorism law to conform with EU deal

  • Turkey's government has purged thousands following the failed military coup last month (Photo: Reuters)

Turkey won't amend its anti-terrorism law, a blow which could upend the EU-Turkey migrant-swap deal signed off with Ankara in March.

In an interview with the Financial Times on Monday (8 August), Turkey's EU minister Omer Celik said it would be "impossible" to overhaul the law in the immediate future.

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EU imposed conditions require Turkey to narrow its definition of terrorism in the law, as part of a broader deal to free-up short term visas for Turkish nationals to travel in the European Union.

But the initial plan to ease visa waivers following the migrant deal over the summer failed, Ankara unable to meet all 72 visa liberalisation benchmarks.

Yet, Celik has not ruled out making the amendments to its counter-terrorism altogether. But he said tensions in the wake of last month's failed military coup along with other threats make the move impossible.

“We have the PKK, Daesh [Isis] and other groups launching attacks so it would not be intelligent to make an amendment in the terrorism law at this point," he said.

The Turkish government has used the broad definition of terrorism to crack down on opposition and jail journalists in the lead up to the coup on 15 July.

Turkey's foreign minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, earlier this month, warned Turkey would no longer abide by the migrant deal, should the EU fail to lift the visa restrictions.

The March agreement has resulted in a sharp decrease in the number of mostly Syrians leaving Turkey to seek asylum in Greece.

The Geneva-based International Organisation for Migration (IOM) registered around 1,800 arrivals in July, down from almost 55,000 in July 2015.

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Ankara has once again threatened to back away from a migrant deal with the EU unless visa waivers for Turks are lifted. Over 1,000 have crossed from Turkey to the Greek islands since the military coup attempt on 15 July.

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Turkey's president Erdogan met with his Russian counterpart Putin in St. Petersburg. The first visit for Erdogan since last month's military coup.

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