Thursday

18th Jul 2019

Berlin furious after Turkey arrests German journalist

  • Erdogan media crackdown part of wider plan to consolidate power (Photo: Reuters)

The Berlin and Ankara rift continues to widen following the arrest of a German newspaper correspondent on terrorism related charges earlier this week in Turkey.

Germany's chancellor Angela Merkel had already spoken out against the arrest followed by demands on Tuesday (28 February) by the German foreign ministry for Ankara to explain the charges against the reporter.

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

A judge in Turkey on Monday ordered the arrest of Deniz Yucel, a Turkish-German journalist for the Die Welt newspaper.

Yucel had been detained since mid-February over a story on a hacker attack against Turkey's energy minister, who is also president Recep Tayyip Erdogan's son in law.

Turkey is the world's worst jailer of journalists and has closed some 170 news outlets in the wake of a failed coup last July. It also lifted the immunity of opposition MPs with many dissenting political voices now jailed.

The media crackdown is part of Erdogan's wider efforts to eliminate opposition against his increasingly authoritarian rule.

Ankara's purge of tens of thousands of so-called state saboteurs has also eviscerated educational institutions and the judiciary.

Referendum and campaigns

Around 166 German lawmakers last week demanded Yucel's release, with some now calling for an entry bans on Erdogan if he does not back down.

Erdogan is expected to campaign in Turkish expat communities in Germany and Austria ahead of a Turkish referendum that would concentrate power in his palace.

But Austria's foreign minister Sebastian Kurz opposed the plan over fears it could raise tensions with Kurdish minorities.

"We clearly reject bringing the Turkish campaign and polarisation to Austria," he said in a statement.

The German reporter scandal comes amid an EU migrant deal with Turkeythat has resulted in a sharp drop of people seeking asylum in Greece.

In exchange for keeping asylum seekers in Turkey, Ankara was promised EU visa-free travel for its nationals and faster EU membership talks.

But the visa-free part has stalled over EU objections to Turkey's counter-terrorism laws.

The deal was largely steered by Germany after some 1 million people arrived there via Turkey and Greece in 2015 to seek refuge.

Merkel is going to Egypt and Tunisia this week to discuss migration control and German returns of rejected asylum seekers and undocumented nationals.

Malta warms to Ankara

Not everyone in the EU is taking a strong stand against Erdogan, however.

Last week, Malta's prime minister Joseph Muscat advocated opening up a new chapter for EU membership with Turkey.

Muscat, whose country holds the EU's rotating presidency, said he had been convinced by Turkey's prime minister in a recent meeting to engage in talks.

"When I put forward the point of human rights and freedom of expression, he retorted that if the EU is so worried about this, we should then agree to open the chapter dealing with justice, freedom and security. You know what, I think he is right," said Muscat.

Opinion

How to handle Erdogan's constitutional coup

An EU statement should say that under Erdogan's new constitution, Turkey no longer meets entry criteria and accession talks should be suspended.

German-Turkish tensions rise over cancelled campaign events

Two German towns cancelled campaign events by Turkish ministers to rally support for Erdogan's consitutional reform amid escalating tensions between the two countries over the detention of a prominent German-Turkish journalist.

Erdogan's Nazi jibes sour EU relations

Turkish leader Erdogan has accused Germany of Nazi-type behaviour after German towns banned Turkish rallies, in a widening EU backlash that also includes Austria and the Netherlands.

News in Brief

  1. Nato chief warns world against more Russian missiles
  2. Germany closes Amazon probe as EU opens another
  3. Report: US chipmaker Qualcomm set for new EU fine
  4. Ireland fears Brexit time zone split
  5. Selmayr to leave EU commission post
  6. EU 'appeasement' of Iran like that of Nazis, Israel says
  7. Report: EU anti-trust chief to go after Amazon
  8. Report: France to back Kovesi for EU prosecutor

Merkel and Macron split over Weber presidency

EU heads of government have their first face-to-faces discussions after the European elections on who should lead the EU commission. They are unlikely to decide quickly - with the parliament also divided over the candidates.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDAUNESDA reduces added sugars 11.9% between 2015-2017
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Uzbekistan Human Rights Dialogue: EU to raise key fundamental rights issues
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNo evidence that social media are harmful to young people
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersCanada to host the joint Nordic cultural initiative 2021
  5. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  7. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  8. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  9. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  10. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  11. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North

Latest News

  1. Timmermans trolls 'idiot' Brexit negotiators
  2. Rudderless Europe: Will real Germany please stand up?
  3. PiS & Fidesz claim credit for von der Leyen victory
  4. Von der Leyen faces gender battle for commission posts
  5. EU proposes yearly rule of law 'reports'
  6. Poland 'optimistic' despite new EU law checks
  7. What did we learn from the von der Leyen vote?
  8. Is Golden Dawn's MEP head of a criminal organisation?

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us