Tuesday

14th Aug 2018

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 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join 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 still not clear on where to put rescued migrants

The mandate for Operation Sophia, the EU's naval mission in the Mediterranean sea, ends in December. Demands to change it, including new rules on disembarkation, are set to be agreed within the next few weeks.

News in Brief

  1. Malta to allow Aquarius migrants to disembark
  2. Juncker sends condolences over Genoa bridge collapse
  3. EU pledges €500,000 more for Indonesian earthquake island
  4. EU commission in talks with states on new Aquarius migrants
  5. Man held after car crashes into UK parliament security barrier
  6. Brexit delays better readability of medicines' instructions
  7. Masked youths set dozens of cars alight in Sweden
  8. Spain and Italy refuse new Aquarius-rescued migrants

EU ready to shore up Morocco migrant funding

The European Commission says it is ready to boost spending in Morocco when it comes to stop migrant hopefuls from reaching Spain by boat. The money follows demands for help from Madrid as irregular arrival numbers spike in Spain.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. ACCACompany Law Package: Making the Best of Digital and Cross Border Mobility,
  2. IPHRCivil Society Worried About Shortcomings in EU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Dialogue
  3. UNESDAThe European Soft Drinks Industry Supports over 1.7 Million Jobs
  4. Mission of China to the EUJointly Building Belt and Road Initiative Leads to a Better Future for All
  5. IPHRCivil society asks PACE to appoint Rapporteur to probe issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan
  6. ACCASocial Mobility – How Can We Increase Opportunities Through Training and Education?
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersEnergy Solutions for a Greener Tomorrow
  8. UNICEFWhat Kind of Europe Do Children Want? Unicef & Eurochild Launch Survey on the Europe Kids Want
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Countries Take a Stand for Climate-Smart Energy Solutions
  10. Mission of China to the EUChina: Work Together for a Better Globalisation
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordics Could Be First Carbon-Negative Region in World
  12. European Federation of Allergy and AirwaysLife Is Possible for Patients with Severe Asthma

Latest News

  1. EU commission steps up legal case against Poland
  2. Separation of powers instead of 'Spitzenkandidat' process
  3. Revealed: ExxonMobil's private dinner with Cyprus' top EU brass
  4. What Salvini teaches us about Operation Sophia
  5. 14 lobbyist meetings with Oettinger and Canete went unminuted
  6. UK poll suggests Brits would now vote Remain
  7. Some EU states face delays in 5G preparation
  8. Nordic and Baltic farmers urgently need EU support

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us