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

WHO: Anti-Ebola Efforts Should Focus on West Africa

Official says WHO is 'reasonably confident' countries bordering those hardest hit by the Ebola outbreak are not seeing the virus crossing their borders More

South Sudan Crisis Threatens Development

Economic costs and lost development opportunities in South Sudan have erased what little progress the country has made since independence in 2011 More

Ukrainian PM Warns: Russia May Try to Disrupt Sunday Poll

Arseniy Yatsenyuk orders full security mobilization for parliamentary election to prevent ‘terrorist acts’ from being carried out 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.
After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rulesi
X
October 21, 2014 12:20 AM
European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.
Video

Video Young Nairobi Tech Innovator on 'Track' in Security Business

A 24-year-old technology innovator in Nairobi has invented a tracking device that monitors and secures cars. He has also come up with what he claims is the most robust audio-visual surveillance system yet. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from the Kenyan capital, his innovations are offering alternative security solutions.
Video

Video Latinas Converting to Islam for Identity, Structure

Latinos are one of the fastest growing groups in the Muslim religion. According to the Pew Research Center, about 6 percent of American Muslims are Latino. And a little more than half of new converts are female. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti travelled to Miami, Florida -- where two out of every three residents is Hispanic -- to learn more.
Video

Video Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fight

The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video South Korea Confronts Violence Within Military Ranks

Every able-bodied South Korean male between 18 and 35 must serve for 21 to 36 months in the country’s armed forces, depending upon the specific branch. For many, service is a rite of passage to manhood. But there are growing concerns that bullying and violence come along with the tradition. Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.
Video

Video North Carolina Emerges as Key Election Battleground

U.S. congressional midterm elections will be held on November 4th and most political analysts give Republicans an excellent chance to win a majority in the U.S. Senate, which Democrats now control. So what are the issues driving voters in this congressional election year? VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone traveled to North Carolina, one of the most politically competitive states in the country, to find out.
Video

Video Comanche People Maintain Pride in Their Heritage

The Comanche (Indian nation) once were called the “Lords of the Plains,” with an empire that included half the land area of current day Texas, large parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado.The fierceness and battle prowess of these warriors on horseback delayed the settlement of most of West Texas for four decades. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Lawton, Oklahoma, that while their warrior days are over, the 15,000 members of the Comanche Nation remain a proud people.
Video

Video Turkey Campus Attacks Raise Islamic Radicalization Fears

Concerns are growing in Turkey of Islamic radicalization at some universities, after clashes between supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) or ISIS, and those opposed to the extremists. Pro-jihadist literature is on sale openly on the streets of Istanbul. Critics accuse the government of turning a blind eye to radicalism at home, while Kurds accuse the president of supporting IS - a charge strongly denied. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

All About America

AppleAndroid