News / Europe

European Union Critical of Human Rights in Turkey

Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan (file photo)
Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan (file photo)
Dorian Jones

The European Union's annual progress report on Turkey's bid to join its ranks, criticized Ankara over freedom of expression and treatment of its minorities. But Ankara has rejected the criticism and is voicing increasing frustration over what its sees as more prejudice on the part of Brussels. Rising tensions could come to a head over the island of Cyprus.

The Turkish government has dismissed out of hand criticisms made by the European Union's annual progress report. The report criticized Turkey over its treatment of its minorities and media freedom. It highlighted the imprisonment of journalists.  

According to human rights groups more than 50 journalists are currently jailed.  However, Ergemen Bagis, Turkish minister for EU membership, says Brussels is out of touch.

"If you consider the report to be a photo of Turkey, what I can say is the model of the camera that took the picture of Turkey is an old model," said Bagis. "I think its time for Europe to change the lens, and to focus better."

The tough reaction is the latest sign of an increasing belligerence by Ankara towards Brussels, according to Semih Idiz, diplomatic correspondent for the Turkish daily newspaper Milliyet.

"Ever since France and Germany coming out against Turkish membership,  I think we are at the logical conclusion of how things started three years ago," said Idiz. "Nobody in Turkey is putting much investment into the idea that Turkey is going to be an EU member anytime soon. And at the moment Europe itself does not provide very inspiring image."

The opposition of France and Germany have resulted in Turkey's membership bid coming to a virtual standstill. The EU commissioner responsible for Enlargement, Stefan Fule, acknowledged Turkish frustrations but also raised concerns over a simmering crisis with Turkey.

"Turkey continues to be a key country for the European Union but accession negotiations have not moved on for more than one year," said Fule. "There is a frustration on both sides.  And I believe its the time to rebuild the momentum in the process and work for a renewed positive agenda in EU - Turkey relations. At the same time the commission remains worried  about the tension between Turkey and Cyprus."

The report  criticized Ankara for its increasingly hardline towards EU member Cyprus. Last month Turkish warships were sent to the island in an ongoing dispute over Nicosia's exploration for gas in its territorial waters. Ankara claims such exploration should be done in cooperation with the Turkish Cypriot administration which only Turkey recognizes.  At a press conference Thursday, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu made clear Turkish displeasure over the criticism.

He said we see that there is a one sided perspective in EU when it comes to Turkey's international work, primarily on the Cyprus issue and he said we feel seriously disturbed by this. He also said Turkey wants the EU and to give a strong message to the Greek Cypriot side and said it was of the utmost importance to Turkey.   

But the EU report was not all bad news , it praised the government for judicial reforms and removing the army from politics. Ankara also drew plaudits as playing a positive role in "Arab Spring" countries. The German foreign minister Gudio Westerwelle, during a visit to Istanbul Thursday, stressed the important future role Turkey can play with the EU in the region.

He said there is no doubt that Turkey has a role as a bridge-builder and he said we want to take advantage of that together. And he said that's why we [Germany] are glad that relations between our countries are so good. He said that Turkey can have a positive influence on  the uprisings in the Arab world, where it can and wants to play such a key role.

Ankara increasingly sees itself as a regional power with global aspirations. But such largesse could prove a double edge sword to Europe. Former Turkish diplomat Sinan Ulgen warns that with Ankara's aspirations for far more than EU membership, it is ready for a show down with Brussels over Cyprus.

"This transformation from almost a compliant member of the western community, making Turkey a full EU member, to a assertive ambitious regional power is what we are seeing today," said Ulgen.

Observers warn Brussels could feel the full force of Turkey's new assertiveness, with the simmering crisis over Cyprus expected to come to a head in the coming months.

You May Like

New England Bears Brunt of US Blizzard

Boston, surrounding region grapple with as much as 3 feet of snow, coastal flooding; leaders in New York, spared most severe weather, criticized for being overly cautious More

China Lifts Lid on Sale of Fake Goods Online

A recent survey found nearly 60 percent of a random sample of items bought from Taobao were fake More

Upward Aims to Create Old-girls Network in Silicon Valley

Lisa Lambert, an executive with Intel Corp.'s venture-capital unit, responds to the gender-disparity debate by creating a new social organization 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.
NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Spacei
X
Rosanne Skirble
January 27, 2015 5:05 PM
The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.
Video

Video NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.
Video

Video Saved By a Mistake - an Auschwitz Survivor's Story

Dagmar Lieblova was 14 when she arrived at Auschwitz in December 1943, along with her entire Czech Jewish family. All of them were to die there, but she was able to leave after several months due to a bureaucratic mix-up which saved her life. Now 85, with three children and six grandchildren, she says she has a feeling of victory. This report by Ahmad Wadiei and Farin Assemi, of RFE/RL's Radio Farda is narrated by RFE’s Raymond Furlong.
Video

Video Weekly Protests in Korea Keep Japanese WWII Atrocities Alive

Every week in Seoul protesters gather in front of the Japanese Embassy to demand an apology and reparations from Tokyo for the thousands of South Korean women who were forced into prostitution during World War II. Although this year marks the 70th anniversary of the end of the war, these protestors have helped keep the issue of comfort women alive and made it difficult for Japan to move beyond its past wartime atrocities. VOA's Brian Padden reports from Seoul.
Video

Video Exercise: New Prescription for Parkinsons Disease

Exercise could be the new prescription for Parkinson's Disease, a progressive disorder of the nervous system that affects movement. More than six million people worldwide suffer from Parkinsons and they're traditionally treated with medication and surgery. Shelley Schlender has more.
Video

Video Brussels Shaken as New Greek Leader Challenges Europe’s Austerity Drive

Greece’s youngest-ever prime minister, 40-year-old Alexis Tsipras, was sworn in Monday after his victorious far-left Syriza party entered a coalition with far right rivals. Tsipras says he will restore dignity to Greece by ending spending cuts. So begins a new chapter for the country at the epicenter of Europe’s economic crisis - a change that has sent tremors across the continent, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Obama Urges Closer Economic Ties During Historic India Visit

U.S. President Barack Obama says the United States and India must do better to capitalize on untapped potential in their economic relationship - by removing some of the roadblocks to greater trade and investment. As VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports from New Delhi, Obama spoke after participating in India’s Republic Day celebration.
Video

Video White House Grapples With Yemen Counterterrorism Strategy

Reports say the U.S. has carried out a drone strike on suspected militants in Yemen, the first after President Barack Obama offered reassurances the U.S. is continuing its counterterrorism operations in the country. The future of those operations has been in question following the collapse last week of Yemen’s government. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youth

Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video US, Japan Offer Lessons as Eurozone Launches Huge Stimulus

The Euro currency has fallen sharply after the European Central Bank announced a bigger-than-expected $67 billion-a-month quantitative easing program Thursday - commonly seen as a form of printing new money. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London on whether the move might rescue the eurozone economy -- and what lessons have been learned from similar programs around the world.
Video

Video Oil Price Drop Troubles Texas Producers

As oil prices have fallen over the past several months, drilling operations have slowed in some parts of the United States - including Texas, the state that surpasses all others in energy production. The Lone Star State’s energy output has been boosted in recent years by development of resources trapped deep below ground in the Eagle Ford shale deposit, which stretches across south central Texas. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Karnes City, Texas, the drop in oil prices has created concerns,
Video

Video Nigerian Elections Pose Concern of Potential Conflict in 'Middle Belt'

Nigeria’s north-central state of Kaduna has long been the site of fighting between Muslims and Christians as well as between people of different ethnic groups. As the February elections approach, community and religious leaders are making plans they hope will keep the streets calm after results are announced. Chris Stein reports from the state capital, Kaduna.
Video

Video As Viewership Drops, Obama Puts His Message on YouTube

Ratings reports show President Obama’s State of the Union address this week drew the lowest number of viewers for this annual speech in 15 years. White House officials anticipated this, and the president has decided to take a non-traditional approach to getting his message out. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

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

All About America

AppleAndroid