News / Europe

EU Delays Turkey Membership Talks Over Protest Crackdown

Anti-government protesters shout slogans during a demonstration in Istanbul, Turkey, June 23, 2013.
Anti-government protesters shout slogans during a demonstration in Istanbul, Turkey, June 23, 2013.
Dorian Jones
The European Union on Tuesday rebuked Turkey for its crackdown on anti-government protesters by postponing a new round of membership talks for at least four months. It said, however, that said Turkey's path to the EU remains open.

The European Union decision is being treated as a diplomatic victory by Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, who claimed the four-month postponement was only a technicality and that Brussels had committed itself to opening talks on a new policy "chapter" in Turkey's accession talks.

Until this week, the EU had opened talks on 13 policy chapters with Turkey, but had completed negotiations on just one. Negotiations on 35 policy chapters must be completed for a country to enter the EU.

Davutoglu said the EU had agreed to open Chapter 22, on regional policy - the first such advance in three years.

The delay in talks addresses the concerns of member states, especially Germany, Austria and the Netherlands, about the recent crackdown on protesters by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's government. The talks had been scheduled to start on Wednesday.

Last week, Ankara threatened to sever all relations with the EU except for economic ties if the chapter was not opened. According to recent opinion polls, a majority of Turks are against EU membership, and Ankara has been aggressively pursuing political and economic relations outside the EU.

But analyst Atilla Yesilada said the ruling AK Party's anti-Brussels rhetoric was just posturing.

"AKP pretends it does not care, but it is simply not true. The allure of Turkey in the Middle East or Muslim world - or to the investment community, for that matter - is that it's a bridge between Western culture and Eastern cultures of the rest of the world. It's the modern Western-looking face of Turkey that makes us so appealing to the Arab world, to the Muslim world, as a role model. Losing that anchor would of been symbolically a massive blow to AKP," said Yesilada.

Ankara has become increasingly isolated over growing criticism of the crackdown on anti-government protests. Semih Idiz, diplomatic correspondent for the newspaper Taraf, said even before the civil unrest, criticism of Ankara's foreign policy already was growing. He pointed to the government's pro-Syrian opposition stance.

"This is what has been characterized and held against the government, which set out to have zero problems with neighbors, and now it seems it has no relationship with the world, let alone with the neighbors. There is something wrong with the way foreign policy is being administered," said Idiz.

In Istanbul, tensions are growing over foreign policy, as well as other issues, including press censorship and laws restricting alcohol use.

On Tuesday, ahead of the EU announcement, police conducted dawn raids on the homes of protesters, arresting at least 20 people.

Diplomatic correspondent Idiz said that with a series of elections taking place in the next two years, Erdogan's behavior will be increasingly hard to predict.

"The prime minister seemed to have started elections rather early, and he has upped the ante at a very early stage. And this is no doubt worrying for many, many planners in Turkey. The problem of this government and its ministers is that they're caught [between] the need to engage in popularism [populism] vis-a-vis their own supporters and followers, and the need to be realistic in terms of Turkey's needs and the situation in the world, so it seems to be going between those two poles," said Idiz.

Already, in a series of mass election rallies, the prime minister has been playing the nationalist card, claiming the unrest is part of an international conspiracy. But some analysts say it may be too late. Erdogan is no longer seen at home as someone who can handle a crisis.

You May Like

Could Nemtsov Threaten Putin in Death as in Life?

Dynamic and debonair opposition leader had supported liberal economic reforms, criticized Russian president's aggression in Ukraine More

Oil Smuggling Highlights Challenges in Shutting Down IS Finances

Pentagon spokesman says Islamic State 'certainly continues to get revenue from the oil industry black market' but that airstrikes have made a dent More

India Focuses on Infrastructure, Investment to Propel Economy

Government expects economy to grow at 8 to 8.5 percent in next fiscal year More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More