'Ankara expects more support from EU against terror'

Read: 1131     17:19     22 November 2018    

Ankara expects solid support from the European Union's member states in the fight against terror, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said Thursday in a joint press conference with Federica Mogherini, the EU high representative for foreign affairs and security, and Johannes Hahn, EU Commission vice president and commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy and enlargement negotiations.

Çavuşoğlu said it was unacceptable for Turkey that EU member countries were granting asylum to the members of the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ), the organization behind the July 15, 2016 coup attempt which killed 251 people and injured 2,200 others.

Çavuşoğlu reiterated Turkey's position that the Customs Union agreement between Turkey and the EU should be updated.

The minister also criticized negative and discriminative remarks against Turkey by several leaders and politicians about its EU candidacy. "There's no use in making statements that exclude Turkey from the EU accession process or denying its candidacy," he said.

"The political obstacles set before Turkey are hindering not only the country but also the growth, welfare and political stability of the EU. The EU also has to unlock the doors it has locked."

"We made an agreement for migration. We sign to open five chapters [of the acquis communitaire], then a decision comes out against opening new chapters. This is hypocrisy, there's no explanation to this," Çavuşoğlu said, referring to the March 2016 deal in which Turkey agreed to take in migrants who illegally enter Greece, and send legal refugees from Turkey to the EU. In return, the EU was supposed to give 6 billion euros to Turkey to be used in projects for migrants, remove visa requirements for Turkish citizens and open new chapters in accession negotiations on condition of implementing some proposed reforms.

Çavuşoğlu also criticized the decision to suspend pre-accession funds provided to Turkey, saying: "Turkey will not go broke because IPA funds were suspended."

The European Union has strong concerns over a large number of journalists and academics who are still being detained in Turkey, Hahn said. Ankara argues that the detained figures are charged with terrorism crimes.

Çavuşoğlu responded that it is pointless for the EU to defend figures who say "I did these actions to overthrow the elected government in Turkey," just because it is 'a civil society'.

Mogherini said that Selahattin Demirtaş, the jailed former co-chairman of the PKK-linked Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP), would be released soon. The European Court of Human Rights ruled Tuesday that Demirtaş, who was arrested on terror crimes in Nov. 2016, should be released because his extended pre-trial detention period violated his rights. However, Demirtaş has been sentenced to jail in two public lawsuits, in addition to a number of ongoing trials.

Ankara criticized the ruling, with President Recep Tayyip accusing the court of turning a blind to eye to the suffering of terror victims in Turkey.

Regarding the murder of dissident Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the kingdom's consulate in Istanbul, Mogherini said all those "really responsible" for his murder have to be held accountable.

After Saudi Arabia accepted responsibility and said that 21 people were in custody, with death penalties sought against five men, attention turned to whether the crown prince would be found culpable.

Calling for a "completely transparent and credible investigation", she said: "For us accountability does not mean revenge."

Khashoggi, a U.S. resident who wrote for The Washington Post and had been critical of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, was lured to the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2, killed and according to Turkish prosecutors dismembered.

After lengthy denials, Saudi authorities admitted responsibility and said 21 people had been taken into custody. However, a CIA analysis leaked to the U.S. media went further, reportedly pointing the finger at the crown prince.

Turkey has repeatedly called for those who ordered the murder to be held accountable but has stopped short of directly blaming Prince Mohammed.

"We've always been against for instance any application of the death penalty but we expect a full, transparent and fair investigation to take place in line with our principles, values, practices on judicial systems," Mogherini said.

Daily Sabah


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