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    EU on diplomatic offensive against Turkey

    Turkey’s clampdown on media and civil society prompted EU´s foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini  to speak to Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu.

    In a phone conversation on 27 July, she once again condemned the attempted coup of 15 July and expressed the full support of the European Union to the legitimate institutions of the country,

    At the same time she underscored the expectations of the EU as to the compliance by Turkish authorities to the highest standards of the rule of law and fundamental rights and freedoms.

    If EU wanted to send a stronger diplomatic signal, for example by withdrawing its ambassador in Ankara for consultation, then it was not possible. The ambassador,  Hansjörg Haber, had resigned last June after less than one year at his post.

    In her phone conversation Mogherini also informed the Turkish minister that she has decided to appoint Christian Berger as the new Head of EU Delegation in Turkey.

    The conversation took place against the backdrop of an on-going wave of purges and arrests in Turkey following the failed military coup two weeks ago. According to news reports up to 60 000 civil servants and state employees have lost their jobs and 16 000 have been arrested.

    The crackdown is targeting media and civil society, with tens of TV-channels, news services, newspapers, magazines, and hundreds of societies and foundations closed down.

    Furthermore, the almost forgotten civil war between the Turkish military and the Kurdish PKK has been raging since months in South-Eastern Turkey.

    The Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter reported on 27 July that whole cities have been abandoned and partly destroyed. Close to a half a million Kurds have become internally displaced persons.

    EU has for the time being, in cooperation with Turkey, managed to close the Balkan route of asylum seekers from Syria and other war-ridden countries. The political suppression, however, now taking place in Turkey against real or imagined opponents might result in a wave of Turkish asylum seekers.

    While EU has an interest in keeping the agreement with the Turkish government on stemming the flow of refugees and asylum seekers via Turkey, it must also defend universal values wherever they are violated. Doing this in a country, where criticism is interpreted as a hostile act or a personal insult against the president, is like walking a tightrope.

    M. Apelblat

    The Brussels Times