Tuesday

7th Jul 2020

Turkey purge intensifies, amid EU visa demands

A flurry of EU diplomatic visits to Ankara has failed to bend Turkey's demand on visa waivers.

At a joint press conference with European Parliament chief Martin Schulz in Ankara on Thursday (1 September), Turkey's prime minister Binali Yildirim said the country would not budge on its anti-terrorism laws.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

"We have made it clear to the EU that it's not possible to make amendments to the terror law in the current situation," he said.

Turkey's president Recep Tayyip Erdogan had previously threatened to pull out of a migrant-swap deal with the EU unless its nationals are allowed to visit EU states without visas by mid-October.

Yildirim's statement follows a new wave of crackdowns on people suspected of helping instigate a failed military coup in July.

Some 543 prosecutors and judges were sacked on Thursday as a part of a much larger purge against those with suspected ties to US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen.

Turkey has also been hit with a spate of recent attacks from both the Islamic State and the Kurdish rebel group PKK.

But the EU says the Turkish law must narrow the definition of terrorism as a pre-condition to lifting visas given journalists and academics also fall under its broad scope.

Schulz, for his part, said the visa benchmarks still need to be met despite Turkey's opposition.

But he also said the European Parliament is willing to work with Turkey to keep the migrant deal, signed off in March, afloat.

"The European Parliament remains a committed supporter in advancing and deepening EU-Turkey relations," he said.

Although the Greek islands have witnessed a recent spike in the number of asylum arrivals, the deal has dramatically decreased the figures compared to last year.

Schulz's statement echoed similar calls for support and solidarity with Turkey by EU migration commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos.

Both men had traveled to Ankara on Thursday to meet senior Turkish officials, including president Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Merkel and Erdogan in China

The EU is desperate to keep the deal intact.

Germany's chancellor Anegela Merkel on Thursday said she would be meeting Turkey's president, along with leaders of France and Italy, next week in the margins of the G20 summit in China.

Germany is also hoping to smooth over ties with Ankara after German lawmakers earlier this year declared an Ottoman massacre of Armenians in 1915 a genocide.

This issue has sparked a sharp rebuke from Turkey which has since denied German lawmakers access to the Incirlik air base.

Around 250 German troops are stationed at the base.

Turkey had also previously critised Western leaders for failing to demonstrate support for the government and the people in the wake of the coup on 15 July.

Some 270 people were killed in an putsch Turkey says was orchestrated by Gulen, a charge he denies.

The Schulz and Avramopoulos trip followed last week's visit from US vice-president Joe Biden.

The EU's foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini and the EU's enlargement commissioner, Johannes Hahn, are also set to visit Ankara next week.

EU in Turkey charm offensive

EU migration commissioner Avramopoulos said he hopes to one day travel to Turkey without a passport in a statement that aims to smooth over tensions with Turkey in the wake of the military coup.

Turkey threatens to scrap refugee deal, again

Two Turkish ministers said that Ankara would end the agreement to reduce the number of migrants coming to Europe if it does not get visa-free travel to the EU.

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.

EU asylum applications rise for first time since 2015 wave

EU commissioner for home affairs Ylva Johansson admitted on Thursday that the latest European asylum report reveals a need to better manage migration. In all, Cyprus, France, Greece, Malta and Spain received more asylum applicants last year than in 2015.

EU Commission to probe Croat border attacks on migrants

Refugee and asylum seeker hopefuls are showing up with horrific injuries, including broken bones and collapsed lungs, after entering Croatia. NGOs blame a militarised Croatian police force for the abuse. The Commission now wants to monitor the border.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDANext generation Europe should be green and circular
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNEW REPORT: Eight in ten people are concerned about climate change
  3. UNESDAHow reducing sugar and calories in soft drinks makes the healthier choice the easy choice
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersGreen energy to power Nordic start after Covid-19
  5. European Sustainable Energy WeekThis year’s EU Sustainable Energy Week (EUSEW) will be held digitally!
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic states are fighting to protect gender equality during corona crisis

Latest News

  1. Commission chief under fire for Croatia campaign video
  2. Parliament vaping booths 'too confidential' to discuss
  3. Belarus: Inside Lukashenko’s crackdown on independent voices
  4. The rationale behind US troop withdrawals from Germany
  5. Podcast: Nordic region speaks out on big global challenges
  6. Croatia re-elects PM amid corona downturn
  7. Budget talks shift gear This WEEK
  8. Cardinals speak out: EU needs corporate due diligence

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us