Originally appeared at DWN, translated by Karin exclusively for SouthFront
Turkish President Erdogan has rejected an EU report on the situation of human rights in Turkey as a provocation. Erdogan said about the issue of refugees, the EU needs Turkey more then Turkey the EU. At the same time Turkey is increasing the pressure on the EU for visa-free travel.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan considers the criticism from the EU on its government for inappropriate and counterproductive. The recent report of the European Parliament on democratic deficits in Turkey is a provocation, Erdogan said Tuesday, according to AFP in a speech in front of local politicians in Ankara.
Erdogan made it clear that in his view the EU is not well advised to criticize Turkey: Erdogan referred to the cooperation between Turkey and the EU to reduce the number of refugees in Europe: “The European Union needs Turkey more than Turkey needs the European Union,” he said. In a time when the relations between Ankara and Brussels are on the right track, it was “provocative to publish such a report,” the Turkish President said.
The European Parliament had last week sharply criticized the actions of the Turkish authorities against journalists and government critics. The EU deputies showed themselves “very concerned” about the regress on the respect for human rights and the rule of law. They pointed in particular to the curtailment of freedom of speech and the independence of the judiciary in Turkey.
Turkish Prime Minister Davutoglu praised during a visit to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe in Strasbourg, the progress in the implementation of the refugee agreement. The plan shows initial successes, Davutoglu said. The number of refugees who leave from Turkey by boat towards Greece had decreased significantly – on average about 60 per day.
He cautioned however, that Turkey would no longer meet their obligations, if the EU should not keep its promise to implement the visa-free regime. He anticipated that the visa requirement for Turkish citizens would be lifted in June, Davutoglu had said before leaving for Strasbourg. Should this not be the case, Turkey will see no longer a duty to honor its commitments.
The visa liberalization is to be provided with a clause to relatively quick lift the visa freedom again, if Ankara fails to comply with its obligations. The visa waiver is an important point of the agreement, which is why the comments of Davotuglu may be rather negotiation tactics for Turkey. The European Commission will present the new progress report for Turkey on Wednesday.
The Turkish Prime Minister also warned in Strasbourg about a rising Islamophobia in Europe. The recent attacks were shocking. They will have to be fought with a “global approach”, Davutoglu said. This applies to all attacks, regardless of whether they were committed in Paris, Brussels and Istanbul. However, these “terrorist” actions should not be “justified on religious grounds.” Anyone doing this will fuel Islamophobia, warned Davutoglu. With this a breeding ground for extremists would be created.