Thursday

29th Jun 2017

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.

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

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.

Security and defence to top EU summit

Pressure is mounting for social media platforms to remove any online content deemed to incite terrorism. Draft conclusions, seen by EUobserver, have made the issue a top priority in leaders' talks next week.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. World VisionEU, Young Leaders and Civil Society Join Forces to End Violence Against Girls
  2. EU2017EEGet the Latest News from the 2017 Estonian EU Council Presidency @EU2017EE
  3. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Talks Should Insist on Ending Reprisals Against Critical Voices
  4. European Free AllianceEFA Is Looking for a New Intern
  5. Malta EU 2017Conservation of Atlantic Tunas: International Measures Become EU Law
  6. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceCan Statin Therapy Interfere With a Physically Active Lifestyle?
  7. EPSUOn Public Services Day, Stop Austerity! Workers Need a Pay Rise!
  8. EGBAOnline Gambling: The EU Court Rejects Closed Licensing Regimes In Member States
  9. World VisionFaces of Today, Leaders of Tomorrow: Join the Debate on Violence Against Girls - 29 June
  10. ECR GroupThe EU Must Better Protect Industry from Unfair Competition
  11. Malta EU 2017Better Protection for Workers From Cancer-Causing Substances
  12. EPSUAfter 9 Years of Austerity Europe's Public Sector Workers Deserve a Pay Rise!