Turkey and the EU have ‘different opinons on freedom’ and the EU ‘does not respect democracy,’ says PM Erdoğan, as international pressure on Ankara grows regarding the police crackdown on protesters
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan continued his harshly-worded criticisms against the European Union yesterday, accusing Brussels of being “undemocratic” in his latest reaction against the recent European Parliament resolution critical against of the government’s handling of the ongoing protests.
“Do you have the right to take such a decision [on Turkey]? You stay silent about what’s happening in France, in England and elsewhere in Europe, and you dare to take a decision on our security forces, who are exercising their duty of law enforcement against those demonstrators. You are anti-democratic,” Erdoğan said at a meeting in Ankara on Monday.
“You [EU] do not respect democracy. Your definition of freedom is different. You support those who attack the freedom of others,” he added.
Describing the activities of the Gezi Park activists as an attempt to restrict the freedom of him and others, Erdoğan repeated his attack on the European Parliament by saying he did not “recognize” it. “I do not recognize this Parliament of the European Union,” he said.
The prime minister sharpened his tone against the EU and European countries in two mass rallies he held over the weekend, accusing some “world powers” of being partners of “internal plotters” aiming to weaken his government. He said he did not recognize the decision of the European Parliament last week, but on Monday he took it further by saying that he no longer recognized the entire European Parliament.
Almost all the heavyweights of the EU issued criticism of the Turkish government with calls to respect the right to freedom of assembly and the right to freedom of expression, and calls to end the police’s excessive use of force against peaceful activists. The response from Turkish officials was harsh and also included counter-accusations of these countries’ and their international media of provoking demonstrations through misinformation and distortion.
‘We gathered more than one million’
Giving examples of how the international media was playing its role in a “defamation” campaign against the government, Erdoğan again took aim at CNN International. “CNN’s [International] subtitle described our rally [on Sunday] as a demonstration against the government. But it deleted this one or two hours later without feeling ashamed. There were more than one million people there. They have all been gathered there to stand against anti-democratic demonstrations,” he said.
Erdoğan also categorized this campaign against his government as directly targeting Turkey’s growing economy and “improving democracy.”
Bağış in quarrel with Jagland
Growing disagreement between Turkey and its European allies also causes fresh quarrels between Turkish and European politicians. Pointing at freedom of assembly in Turkey, EU Minister Egemen Bağış suggested that Secretary General of the Council of Europe (CoE) Thorbjørn Jagland should first examine how the same freedom was exercised in Europe.
“If Jagland would examine the member states of the council he is the secretary general of, he would see that actually Turkey’s freedom of assembly is much above those countries,” Bağış told Anatolia news agency on June 17, in an apparent response to a statement by Jagland delivered on June 16.
In his statement, Jagland particularly underlined “the legally binding standards set by the European Convention on Human Rights regarding the freedom of assembly – and its limits.”
“It is true that this right is not absolute, but any restriction has to be prescribed by law and necessary in a democratic society. The case-law of the European Court of Human Rights is very clear on this. Authorities have to take appropriate measures with regard to demonstrations in order to ensure their peaceful conduct and the safety of all citizens,” Jagland said.