European Parliament Scraps Turkey Visit in Wake of Erdogan Criticism

Tension between the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government and the European Parliament over the Turkish police’s crackdown on protestors is growing.

Justice Minister Sadullah Ergin canceled his trip to Brussels, where he was set to participate in a conference on freedom of expression and media in the Western Balkans and Turkey.

The delegation from the European Parliament Committee on Foreign Affairs also postponed its visit scheduled for this week.  

The European Parliament’s resolution expressing concern over "the disproportionate and excessive use of force" by Turkish police against the demonstrators on Taksim Square, which was accepted last week, has infuriated Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan who said that he did not recognize the decision. Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu also rejected European criticism: “This approach is unacceptable,” he said with regard to the European Parliament's resolution.

“In the face of the declarations made by representatives of the government of Turkey, the committee has decided to postpone its visit,” said Elmar Brok, who chairs the parliament’s foreign affairs committee.

“I regret this. Turkey is and remains an important partner for the EU but should understand how to deal with criticism,” he added.

“We will pursue contacts with our counterparts in Turkey to re-establish a constructive dialogue with them.”

The EU bashing has spread to other Turkish officials as Cemil Çicek, the parliamentary speaker, as well as Egemen Bağış, the EU minister, have refused to meet members of the European Parliament.

The visit by the Committee on Foreign Affairs was scheduled long before the Gezi Park protests. But the members could only get appointments from the opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) and Peace and Democracy Party (BDP).

While the visit has been canceled, MEP Hélène Flautre (Group of the Greens/European Free Alliance), who was supposed to be in the delegation as the chair of EU-Turkey mixed parliamentary commission, decided to come to Turkey. She is expected to meet Istanbul Gov. Hüseyin Avni Mutlu.

Another international figure to comment about recent events was Navi Pillay, the United Nations high commissioner for human rights. Pillay welcomed last week’s decision by the Turkish government to put on hold further action on the Gezi Park development in Istanbul until there is a court decision, and then to submit the issue to a local referendum. However, she expressed her concern about the excessive use of force by police against protesters.

“In times of growing public outcry and large-scale protests, the government must take all necessary measures to ensure that police forces do not resort to excessive use of force and other human rights violations while discharging their duties,” the high commissioner said.




Photo by Sinan Doğan.

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