Thursday

24th Jan 2019

EU willing to keep contact with Turkey

  • Turkish president Erdogan (c) with EU council and commission presidents Tusk (l) and Juncker. "We need to keep channels of communication open." (Photo: Council of the European Union)

The EU has condemned the latest raft of arrests in Turkey, but is not yet considering changing its relationship with the country.

"The European Union is gravely concerned about the detention last night of several HDP members of the Turkish Grand National Assembly on charges alleging support of terrorist activities," the EU chief diplomat Federica Mogherini and neighbourhood commissioner Johannes Hahn said in a statement.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

Eleven MPs, including party leader Selahattin Demirtas and vice-chair Figen Yuksekdag, from the pro-Kurdish People's Democratic Party (HDP) were arrested on Friday (4 October). All had refused to answer judges about alleged crimes linked to "terrorist propaganda".

Mogherini and Hahn pointed out that Demirtas and Yuksekdag were both democratically elected leaders" and the EU's "trusted and valued interlocutors".

"These developments add to the concerns we expressed after the immunity of more than 130 democratically elected members of parliament was lifted in May this year," they said.



They added that the arrests "compromise parliamentary democracy in Turkey and exacerbate the already very tense situation in the South East of the country," where authorities are fighting Kurdish forces.

In a separate statement, European Parliament president Martin Schulz said that the arrests sent "a chilling signal about the state of political pluralism in Turkey".

He added that actions by Turkish authorities "call into question the basis for the sustainable relationship between EU and Turkey."

In Berlin, the German government urged the Turkish government to give HDP members "a fair trial" and summoned the Turkish charge d'affaires.

The crackdown on leaders of a political party come after more than 30,000 people have been arrested, since a failed coup on 15 July, under a state of emergency that has been prolonged until mid-January.

In the meantime, the government is considering reintroducing the death penalty despite warnings from the EU and the US.


Next week, the EU commission is expected to publish its annual report on enlargement process with several countries, including Turkey.

The final decision on the recommendations will be taken at the last minute, but a suspension of enlargement talks with Ankara is not yet on the table, officials say.


"We need to keep channels of communication open," a source said, even if Mogherini and Hahn's statement was designed to tell Turkish president Erdogan that he is going too far.

Reputation damage

The EU still needs an interlocutor in Ankara, to talk about the internal situation in Turkey, with opponents and civil society under pressure and an estimated 3 million Syrian refugees living in camps, as well as about the situation in the region with the war in Syria.

Although the commission still thinks that Turkey has made the strategic choice to turn to Europe decades ago, its leverage seems limited now that Erdogan is intent to focus on his position inside Turkey, with Russia as a new partner.

For the EU, Turkey remains a crucial partner to manage the flow of refugees to Europe, according to an agreement signed off in March.

On Thursday, Turkish foreign minister Cavusoglu again threatened to scrap the deal if his country was not granted a visa-free regime by the end of the month.

But EU officials believe that pressure has already put Turkey in a more difficult position inside Nato and that Ankara will be careful to protect its reputation in the international community.

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.

Turkey sends EU mixed message on migration

Turkey's EU minister said in Bratislava his country will continue to respect the migration deal, but would not do more until it gets visa-free EU travel.

News in Brief

  1. Media cut ties to reporter who plagiarised EU stories
  2. Cyprus to host southern EU summit next week
  3. 'Yellow Vest' protesters to run list in EU elections
  4. Barnier: No-deal preparations 'more important than ever'
  5. Commission offers no-deal Brexit help to EU fisheries
  6. OECD: France and Belgium top social spending
  7. Study: Tax evasion cost five time as much as EU budget
  8. Dublin: Bilateral Brexit deal may be needed with UK

Analysis

China's 2019 growth outlook

As China's growth seems to be slowing, some observers see the country amid what the New York Times called a "severe downturn". As they mistake China's secular deceleration with cyclical fluctuations, they miss the rapid increase in Chinese living standards.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. International Partnership For Human RightsKyrgyz authorities have to immediately release human rights defender Azimjon Askarov
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersSeminar on disability and user involvement
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersInternational appetite for Nordic food policies
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Nordic Innovation House in Hong Kong
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region has chance to become world leader when it comes to start-ups
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersTheresa May: “We will not be turning our backs on the Nordic region”
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsOpen letter to Emmanuel Macron ahead of Uzbek president's visit
  8. International Partnership for Human RightsRaising key human rights concerns during visit of Turkmenistan's foreign minister
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersState of the Nordic Region presented in Brussels
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General

Latest News

  1. European Space Force should only be for defence, says MEP
  2. The demise of the INF treaty: can the EU save arms control?
  3. Stymied on 'golden passports', EU sets up expert group
  4. Tajani wants second term as EU parliament president
  5. EU commissioner floats idea for European space force
  6. France and Germany hope to revive EU with Aachen treaty
  7. May pushes defeated Brexit deal, offers no Plan B
  8. European Parliament targets 'fake' political groups

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic design sets the stage at COP24, running a competition for sustainable chairs
  2. Counter BalanceIn Kenya, a motorway funded by the European Investment Bank runs over roadside dwellers
  3. ACCACompany Law Package: Making the Best of Digital and Cross Border Mobility,
  4. International Partnership for Human RightsCivil Society Worried About Shortcomings in EU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Dialogue
  5. UNESDAThe European Soft Drinks Industry Supports over 1.7 Million Jobs
  6. Mission of China to the EUJointly Building Belt and Road Initiative Leads to a Better Future for All
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsCivil society asks PACE to appoint Rapporteur to probe issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan
  8. ACCASocial Mobility – How Can We Increase Opportunities Through Training and Education?
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersEnergy Solutions for a Greener Tomorrow
  10. UNICEFWhat Kind of Europe Do Children Want? Unicef & Eurochild Launch Survey on the Europe Kids Want
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Countries Take a Stand for Climate-Smart Energy Solutions
  12. Mission of China to the EUChina: Work Together for a Better Globalisation

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us