Unyielding Erdogan

Hardline Turkish Politics Undermine Migrant Deal

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Let me tell you how I view democracy.
  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    If taken too far, Turkish President Recep Ayyip Erdogan’s heavy-handed counter-terrorism agenda at home could undermine its refugee deal with the European Union and talks over its E.U. membership.

  • Facts

    Facts

    • Turkey’s parliament on Friday will vote on a bid backed by President  Recep Ayyip Erdogan to strip immunity status from a quarter of parliamentarians.
    • The proposed law mainly threatens members of the pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party, or HDP, who could face terrorism charges under a loose legal definition.
    • As part of the E.U.-Turkey migrant deal in March, Ankara agreed to reform its counter-terrorisms laws targeting Kurdish parliamentarians and other government critics.
  • Audio

    Audio

  • Pdf

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is unyielding in the face of European Union calls for his Islamic conservative government to soften anti-terrorism laws over concerns that they are too broad and could be used to muzzle political opponents.

Despite threatening to undermine a deal with the European Union to stem the flow of illegal immigration – in exchange for billions of euros in financial aid and visa-free E.U. travel for Turks – a spokesman for the Turkish president on Wednesday told reporters in Ankara that weakening the laws would “encourage terror organizations” and was “out of the question.”

Rather than compromise, President Erdogan is hardening his stance ahead of a Friday vote in Turkey’s parliament to strip immunity status from a quarter of parliamentarians. The proposed action mainly threatens members of the pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party, or HDP, who could face terrorism charges under a loose legal definition.

German Bundestag President Norbert Lammert, in an interview with the newspaper Die Süddeutsche on Thursday, accussed Mr. Erdogan of “autocratic ambitions” and of initiating a “whole series of events with which Turkey is further distancing itself from our standards of democracy.”

Mr. Lammert, who is a member of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union, said the Turkish president’s latest attack on the country’s parliamentary and democratic structures could only be successful if “the parliament were prepared to go down the path of self-empowerment.” He warned that now was the time to show “self-assertion.”

In the same interview, Bundestag Vice President Johannes Singhammer, said Mr. Erdogan is “crossing the Rubicon” with his plans to lift immunity. Given this situation, he added, the European Union cannot approve visa-free travel for Turks.

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