Erdogan says Turkey will not change its anti-terrorism law

Recep Tayyip Erdoğan [Turkish Presidency]

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Saturday (7 May) accused European nations of hypocrisy in pressing his country on terror laws while “sidelining democracy” at home in their own fight against terrorism.

“Those who criticise us are reduced to sidelining democracy and freedoms when bombs started to explode on their soil,” Erdoğan said in a speech in the southeastern city of Malatya.

Last week, the European Commission said Turkey had to meet five objectives, including changes to its anti-terror law, to gain visa-free travel to its passport-free area under a deal to curb the influx of migrants to the European Union.

Commission admits visa-free travel for Turks depends on national parliaments

The European Commission today (4 May) proposed that Turkish nationals would enjoy visa-free travel to the EU’s Schengen zone by the end of June, praising Ankara for its fast delivery on meeting the necessary conditions. But Commission experts admit that national parliaments could upturn the deal.

“I am going to talk plainly: on the question of visas, let those who call on Turkey to modify its anti-terrorism law start by removing tents set up by the terrorists at the doors of the European Parliament,” Erdoğan said.

It was an apparent reference to a tent set up by Kurdish activists near the European Council in Brussels where a Turkey-EU summit was to be held in March.

Saturday’s swipe followed on the heels of another combative speech in which Erdoğan warned Turkey would not change its panoply of anti-terror laws.

“The EU says: you will change the anti-terror law for visas,” Erdoğan said in a televised speech in Istanbul on Friday. “Pardon me, but we are going our way and you can go yours.”

The present anti-terrorism laws allow Turkey to press terrorism charges against critical journalists and academics. Can Dündar, editor-in-chief of Cumhuriyet, and Erdem Gül, 49, the newspaper’s Ankara bureau chief, stand accused of trying to topple the government with the publication in May 2015 of video purporting to show Turkey’s state intelligence agency helping to truck weapons to Syria in 2014.

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Erdoğan’s Prime Minister, Ahmet Davutoğlu, who announced Thursday (5 May) he was quitting, had championed the 18 March visa deal with the EU.

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The European Union is unsure how the departure of Turkey’s prime minister will affect the deal he struck with the EU to curb migration, the EU’s foreign affairs chief said on Thursday (5 May), as Brussels watched events in Ankara with unease.

The EU has a list of 72 criteria for pushing through visa-free travel for Turkish nationals under the landmark, but controversial, agreement.

Five of these “benchmarks” remain outstanding, according to the executive’s assessment. The 28 EU member states and the European Parliament must also approve the visa scheme, which is by no means a foregone conclusion.

Erdoğan has previously warned Brussels that Ankara would stop fulfilling its side of the migrant deal — which has seen the numbers making dangerous crossings across the Aegean Sea fall sharply — if the EU’s promises are not kept.

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Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan warned the European Union on Thursday (7 April) that Ankara would not implement a key deal on reducing the flow of refugees if Brussels fails to fulfil its side of the bargain.

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Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdo?an today (11 February) slammed EU and UN pressure to open Turkey’s borders to more refugees, threatening to send the millions already in the country to other states.


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