Wednesday

26th Sep 2018

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. UN chief: World suffering from 'trust deficit disorder'
  2. Stalemate in Sweden as parliament ousts prime minister
  3. Migrant rescue ship heading to French port
  4. EU angry at British tabloids on Brexit
  5. UK to allow EU flights in no-deal Brexit
  6. Greek reporters arrested after story on 'mishandled' EU funds
  7. Austrian minister urges police to out foreign sex offenders
  8. ECB's Draghi set to clarify role in secretive G30 group

EU parliament will not budge on office expenses

Hungarian centre-right MEP Livia Jaroka sticks to earlier decision: documents related to the minor reform of the expenses system, requested by EUobserver, should remain secret.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  2. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  3. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General
  4. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSNordic design sets the stage at COP24, running a competition for sustainable chairs.
  5. Counter BalanceIn Kenya, a motorway funded by the European Investment Bank runs over roadside dwellers
  6. ACCACompany Law Package: Making the Best of Digital and Cross Border Mobility,
  7. IPHRCivil Society Worried About Shortcomings in EU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Dialogue
  8. UNESDAThe European Soft Drinks Industry Supports over 1.7 Million Jobs
  9. Mission of China to the EUJointly Building Belt and Road Initiative Leads to a Better Future for All
  10. IPHRCivil society asks PACE to appoint Rapporteur to probe issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan
  11. ACCASocial Mobility – How Can We Increase Opportunities Through Training and Education?
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersEnergy Solutions for a Greener Tomorrow

Latest News

  1. EU court delivers transparency blow on MEP expenses
  2. Russian with Malta passport in money-laundering probe
  3. Cyprus: Russia's EU weak link?
  4. Missing signature gaffe for Azerbaijan gas pipeline
  5. Every major city in Europe is getting warmer
  6. No chance of meeting EU renewable goals if infrastructure neglected
  7. Brexit and MEPs expenses in the spotlight This WEEK
  8. Wake-up call on European Day Against Islamophobia

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us