Tuesday, April 6, 2021

EU chiefs raise ‘deep worries’ over rights in Turkey with Erdogan | Al Jazeera

EU chiefs raise ‘deep worries’ over rights in Turkey with Erdogan

The European Union’s top two officials expressed “deep worries” about human rights in Turkey while voicing hope for stronger ties during their first meeting in a year with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Tuesday’s discussions in the capital, Ankara, came on the heels of Turkey’s withdrawal from the Istanbul Convention, which combats violence against women, and the launch of a formal attempt to shut down the country’s main pro-Kurdish party.

“The rule of law and respect of fundamental rights are core values of the European Union and we shared with President Erdogan our deep worries on the latest developments with Turkey in this respect,” European Council President Charles Michel said after nearly three hours of talks with Erdogan.

European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen, meanwhile, said human rights issues were a “crucial” element for better Turkey-EU ties as Ankara and Brussels eye a possible warming of relations in the wake of conciliatory moves from both sides in recent weeks.

“Human rights issues are non-negotiable, they have absolute priority … we were very clear on that,” von der Leyen said.

“I am deeply worried about the fact that Turkey withdrew from the Istanbul Convention. This is about protecting women and protecting children against violence and this is clearly the wrong signal right now,” she added.

“Turkey must respect international human rights rules and standards, to which by the way the country has committed itself as a founding member of the Council of Europe.”

Erdogan did not address reporters but his office issued a statement reaffirming Turkey’s position that it wanted the EU “to take concrete steps to support a positive agenda”.

“The final objective of Turkey’s EU process is full membership,” Erdogan’s office said in reference to accession talks that have been frozen over the past decade.

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