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

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Bosnian Massacre Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs UN countermeasure More

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants 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.
Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountaini
X
July 02, 2015 4:10 AM
Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs