EU slams Turkey on human rights, democracy

By bne IntelliNews November 8, 2016

Renewed attempts to reintroduce death penalty in Turkey along with continued media restrictions and arrests of journalists and opposition lawmakers weaken the rule of law, the respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in the country, the European Union said on November 8.

The statement comes a day before the European Commission releases its annual report on Turkey's progress in meeting accession criteria. The report will be highly critical of Ankara, recent media reports suggested. It is questionable, however, how seriously Turkey takes warnings from Brussels. Top Turkish politicians have repeatedly blasted Brussels' criticism of its crackdown following the July 15 coup attempt.

Turkey accuses Europe, particularly Germany, of harbouring terrorist organisations, such as the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and supporters of Fethullah Gulen, who Ankara says masterminded the failed botched putsch.

A recent exchange of words between the European Parliament’s President Martin Schulz and Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim over the arrest of Cumhuriyet staff could be an example of how ineffective the role of Brussels is now in shaping Turkey’s policy orientation. “The detention of Cumhuriyet journalists is yet another red-line crossed against freedom of expression in Turkey,” Schulz tweeted on October 31. Yildirim’s response was harsh. “We don't care about your red line. It's the people who draw the red lines in this country,” Yildirim said.

“These extremely worrying developments weaken the rule of law, the respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms and compromise parliamentary democracy, while further polarising Turkish society in general,” the European Council said in a statement on its website.

Brussels reminded that it considers the PKK as a terrorist organisation, and called for an end to violence. “The EU and its Member States stand by Turkey in its fight against terrorism. They firmly believe that all violence and terrorist attacks must stop and arms must be laid down.”

“The EU and its Member States recall their condemnation of the coup attempt and, while recognising the need for Turkey to take proportionate action, call on Turkey to safeguard its parliamentary democracy in conformity with its commitments as a candidate country. In this regard, the EU and its Member States will continue to follow and assess the situation very closely and they stand ready to continue political dialogue with Turkey at all levels, within the established framework.”

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