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

    Russian-speaking Muslim Exiles Fear Possible Russia-Turkey Thaw

    Exiled from Russia as Islamic radicals and extremists, thousands found asylum in Turkey

    US Presidential Election Ends at Conventions for Territorial Citizens

    Citizens of US territories like Guam or Puerto Rico enjoy participation in US political process but are denied right to vote for president

    UN Syria Envoy: 'Devil Is in the Details' of Russian Aleppo Proposal

    UN uncertain about the possible humanitarian impact of Russian proposal to establish escape corridors in Aleppo

    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.
    Uganda Unveils its First Solar-powered Busi
    X
    July 28, 2016 4:16 AM
    A solar-powered bus described by its Ugandan makers as the first in Africa has made its public debut. Kiira Motors' electric bus, Kayoola, displayed recently at a stadium in Uganda's capital. From Kampala, Maurice Magorane filed this report narrated by Salem Solomon.
    Video

    Video Uganda Unveils its First Solar-powered Bus

    A solar-powered bus described by its Ugandan makers as the first in Africa has made its public debut. Kiira Motors' electric bus, Kayoola, displayed recently at a stadium in Uganda's capital. From Kampala, Maurice Magorane filed this report narrated by Salem Solomon.
    Video

    Video Silicon Valley: More Than A Place, It's a Culture

    Silicon Valley is a technology powerhouse and a place that companies such as Google, Facebook and Apple call home. It is a region in northern California that stretches from San Francisco to San Jose. But, more than that, it's known for its startup culture. VOA's Elizabeth Lee went inside one company to find out what it's like to work in a startup.
    Video

    Video Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Process

    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video Philadelphia Uses DNC Spotlight to Profile Historic Role in Founding of United States

    The slogan of the Democratic National Convention now underway in Philadelphia is “Let’s Make History Again” which recognizes the role the city played in the foundation of the United States in the 18th century. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, local institutions are opening their doors in an effort to capitalize on the convention spotlight to draw visitors, and to offer more than just a history lesson.
    Video

    Video A Life of Fighting Back: Hillary Clinton Shatters Glass Ceiling

    Hillary Clinton made history Thursday, overcoming personal and political setbacks to become the first woman to win the presidential nomination of a major U.S. political party. If she wins in November, she will go from “first lady” to U.S. Senator from New York, to Secretary of State, to “Madam President.” Polls show Clinton is both beloved and despised. White House Correspondent Cindy Saine takes a look at the life of the woman both supporters and detractors agree is a fighter for the ages.
    Video

    Video Dutch Entrepreneurs Turn Rainwater Into Beer

    June has been recorded as one of the wettest months in more than a century in many parts of Europe. To a group of entrepreneurs in Amsterdam the rain came as a blessing, as they used the extra water to brew beer. Serginho Roosblad has more to the story.
    Video

    Video First Time Delegate’s First Day Frustrations

    With thousands of people filling the streets of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania for the 2016 Democratic National Convention, VOA’s Kane Farabaugh narrowed in on one delegate as she made her first trip to a national party convention. It was a day that was anything but routine for this United States military veteran.
    Video

    Video Commerce Thrives on US-Mexico Border

    At the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia this week, the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, is expected to attack proposals made by her opponent, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Last Friday, President Barack Obama hosted his Mexican counterpart, President Enrique Peña Nieto, to underscore the good relations between the two countries. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Tucson.
    Video

    Video Film Helps Save Ethiopian Children Thought to be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at effort of African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora