Saturday

24th Feb 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.

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.

"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.

Libya return demand triggers reintegration headaches

The UN migration agency (IOM) had planned to help return and reintegrate 5,000 people from Libya to their home countries, but ended up aiding 20,000 in 2017. The extra demand has piled on the pressure.

Frontex naval operation to look for 'foreign fighters'

The EU border and coast guard agency, or Frontex, has launched a new naval operation called Themis. The operation replaces its surveillance Triton mission but with a bigger emphasis on security and intelligence gathering.

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