Sunday

25th Feb 2018

Turkey-EU relations plumb new depths

  • Turkish leader needs a foreign "bogeyman" for the April referendum, Germany's Gabriel said (Photo: Reuters)

Turkey’s quarrel with the EU escalated on all fronts over the weekend, with fresh “Nazi” insults, “terrorism” accusations, and death penalty and migrant threats.

The Turkish leader, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, personally accused German chancellor Angela Merkel of being a Nazi at a rally in Istanbul on Sunday (19 March).

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  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.

“You are right now employing Nazi measures. Against who? My Turkish brother citizens in Germany and brother ministers,” he said.

He accused Germany of backing the Kurdish separatist PKK group, which both the EU and Turkey have designated as a terrorist entity, saying “the masked ball is over” on Turkey-EU relations.

He also accused Deniz Yucel, a Turkish-German journalist, of being a Kurdish “terror agent”.

Yucel was working for Germany's Die Welt newspaper in Turkey until his arrest last month after a story that embarrassed Erdogan’s son-in-law.

Erdogan said on Saturday that he would “approve … without any hesitation” the reinstatement of the death penalty in Turkey if MPs did “the necessary thing” in voting for it.

He had said on Friday that Turkish families living in Europe should have “not just three but five children” each, in order to “stake a claim”.

Turkish referendum

The dispute comes after Germany, as well as Austria and the Netherlands, blocked Turkish ministers from attending political rallies with Turkish expats ahead of Turkey’s referendum on 16 April.

The vote is designed to change the Turkish constitution to give Erdogan sweeping powers.

Erdogan has long-complained that Germany is not doing enough to fight the PKK and is not helping him to crack down on the followers of Fethullah Gulen, an exiled Muslim guru, whom the Turkish president says organised last July’s failed coup in Turkey.

Some 30,000 Kurdish protesters in Frankfurt on Saturday brandished pro-PKK banners and called for Turkey to free the group’s leader.

The head of Germany’s BND intelligence agency, Bruno Kahl, also told Der Spiegel, a German magazine, on Saturday that he did not believe Gulen was behind the coup.

“Turkey has tried to convince us of that at every level but so far it has not succeeded," Kahl said.

Erdogan’s spokesman, Ibrahim Kalin, told CNN Turk on Sunday that “it is unacceptable to see PKK symbols and slogans ... when Turkish ministers and lawmakers are being prevented from meeting their own citizens”.

He added that the BND comments were “a sign of their [Germans’] support for Feto”, an acronym for the label “Fethullah terrorist organisation”.

"Why are they protecting them? Because these are useful instruments for Germany to use against Turkey”, the Erdogan spokesman said.

The Turkish interior minister, Suleyman Soylu, added on Friday that Turkey would “blow the mind" of Europe by sending over 15,000 Syrian refugees a month.

Bogeyman

The German foreign minister, Sigmar Gabriel, and European Commission president, Jean Claude-Juncker, reacted to the tirade in strong terms.

Gabriel told the Passauer Neue Presse, a German newspaper, in remarks published on Monday, that Erdogan’s comments on Merkel were “shocking” and that “a boundary has been crossed here”.

He told Der Spiegel on Saturday that Erdogan’s “provocations” were designed to create a foreign “bogeyman” to help him win the referendum.

“Turkey is definitely further away from becoming a member of the EU than ever before,” he said.

Juncker, speaking in Bild, a German newspaper, on Sunday said he was against formally halting EU-Turkey accession talks because they had stopped anyway in de facto terms.

He added that the death penalty was a “red line”, however: "If the death penalty is reintroduced in Turkey, that would lead to the end of negotiations."

Little Erdogans

He said he did not believe in Turkey’s threats to abandon last year’s EU deal on stopping migrants because “it is not in Turkey’s interests to have smuggling rings and bandits in charge along its coast”.

He also said that most Turkish people living in Europe shared EU values and made a positive contribution to Europe’s economy.

“Not all Turks are little Erdogans,” Juncker said.

Erdogan signals new era in EU relations

Turkish leader dismissed international critics and spoke of reinstating death penalty after referendum win, signalling new era in EU relations.

Opinion

EU-Morocco fishing deal casts doubt on EU future foreign policy

Not extending the EU fisheries deal with Morocco to fish off the disputed coast of Western Sahara could deprive the Sahrawi people of much-needed income - and throw into question future EU foreign policy in the name of human rights.

EU warns Turkey over 'threat' to Cyprus

The European Commission called on Ankara to refrain from doing "damage to good neighbourly relations", after Turkish vessels stop a rig from reaching a gas drilling zone.

News in Brief

  1. EU calls for immediate ceasefire in Syria
  2. UK's post-Brexit vision is 'pure illusion', Tusk says
  3. EU leaders express solidarity with Cyprus in Turkey drill row
  4. EU to double funding for Sahel forces
  5. EU parliament president: 'The immigration problem is Africa'
  6. May to unveil EU departure strategy next week
  7. Pregnant workers may be dismissed, EU court rules
  8. Romanian minister demands anti-corruption prosecutor fired

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. ILGA EuropeAnkara Ban on LGBTI Events Continues as Turkish Courts Reject NGO Appeals
  2. Aid & Trade LondonJoin Thousands of Stakeholders of the Global Aid Industry at Aid & Trade London
  3. Macedonian Human Rights Movement Int.European Free Alliance Joins MHRMI to End the Anti-Macedonian Name Negotiations
  4. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Tourism Year to Promote Business and Mutual Ties
  5. European Jewish CongressAt “An End to Antisemitism!” Conference, Dr. Kantor Calls for Ambitious Solutions
  6. UNESDAA Year Ago UNESDA Members Pledged to Reduce Added Sugars in Soft Drinks by 10%
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsUzbekistan: Investigate Torture of Journalist
  8. CESICESI@Noon on ‘Digitalisation & Future of Work: Social Protection For All?’ - March 7
  9. UNICEFExecutive Director's Committment to Tackling Sexual Exploitation and Abuse of Children
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersState of the Nordic Region 2018: Facts, Figures and Rankings of the 74 Regions
  11. Mission of China to the EUDigital Economy Shaping China's Future, Over 30% of GDP
  12. Macedonian Human Rights Movement Int.Suing the Governments of Macedonia and Greece for Changing Macedonia's Name

Latest News

  1. EU agrees budget to focus on defence, security and migration
  2. EU leaders nix transnational lists, cool on 'Spitzenkandidat'
  3. Regions chief: calls for smaller EU budget are 'impossible'
  4. Election fever picks up This WEEK
  5. EU-Morocco fishing deal casts doubt on EU future foreign policy
  6. EU leaders put 'Spitzenkandidat' on summit menu
  7. European far-right political party risks collapse
  8. The key budget issues on EU leaders' table

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Swedish EnterprisesHarnessing Globalization- at What Cost? Keynote Speaker Commissioner Malmström
  2. European Friends of ArmeniaSave The Date 28/02: “Nagorno-Karabakh & the EU: 1988-2018”
  3. European Heart NetworkSmart CAP is Triple Win for Economy, Environment and Health
  4. European Free AlllianceEFA Joined the Protest in Aiacciu to Solicit a Dialogue After the Elections
  5. EPSUDrinking Water Directive Step Forward but Human Right to Water Not Recognized
  6. European Gaming & Betting AssociationGambling Operators File Data Protection Complaint Against Payment Block in Norway
  7. European Jewish CongressEJC Expresses Deep Concern Over Proposed Holocaust Law in Poland
  8. CECEConstruction Industry Gets Together to Discuss the Digital Revolution @ the EU Industry Days
  9. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Relations in the New Era
  10. European Free AlllianceEnd Discrimination of European Minorities - Sign the Minority Safepack Initiative
  11. Centre Maurits Coppieters“Diversity Shouldn’t Be Only a Slogan” Lorant Vincze (Fuen) Warns European Commission
  12. Dialogue PlatformWhat Can Christians Learn from a Global Islamic Movement?