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

Nigeria Incumbent in Tight Spot as Poll Nears

Muhammadu Buhari is running a strong challenge to Goodluck Jonathan, amid a faltering economy and Boko Haram security worries More

Video Liberia's Almost-Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo tells VOA that despite her fame, life is still a struggle as she waits for government's promise of support to arrive More

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

At least seven different indigenous groups in Ratanakiri depend mainly on forest products for their survival, say they face loss of their land, traditional way of life 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.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

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