Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said Turkey is “fed up” with the European Union’s “hypocrisy” in talks for its application to join the bloc, reflecting Ankara’s anger with EU criticism over the situation of human rights in the country, during the visit of German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, who was not welcomed in line with diplomatic protocol in Ankara.
The blunt comments by Çavuşoğlu came during a press conference after the German foreign minister and likely the next president of the EU’s leading county was not welcomed in Ankara on Tuesday.
“We are truly fed up with these statements degrading Turkey. The criteria are clear but there are double standards and a two-faced approach. This is what we don’t like,” Çavuşoğlu said.
Referring to an issue that could spell the end of Turkey’s accession bid, Çavuşoğlu said that the Turkish people would decide whether or not to reinstate the death penalty.
While thanking his counterpart Çavuşoğlu for “what was not exactly an easy discussion,” Steinmeier said he was “irritated” by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s accusation that Germany harbored “terrorists” connected to the terrorist Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). He also expressed hope that ties between the two countries would soon “return to their previous condition.”
The head of Germany’s domestic spy agency rejected Turkey’s charge that Germany was harboring militants with ties to the PKK, saying that the accusation was “completely unjustified.”
“We have been working for many years to ensure that the PKK in Germany poses no danger to Germany or Turkey,” Hans-Georg Maassen told Reuters on Tuesday.
The Turkish government and President Erdoğan have accused Chancellor Angela Merkel and her government of failing to display adequate solidarity in the wake of the crisis following a failed coup attempt on July 15. Berlin, meanwhile, has been consistent in its disapproval of mass purges across Turkey that have seen more than 100,000 military officers, judges, civil servants and academics dismissed from their positions. Meanwhile, Ankara has silenced dissident voices in the press and shuttered leading news outlets.
Steinmeier also met with intellectuals who campaign for human rights and press freedom in what appeared to be a sign to Ankara that Berlin does not approve of the post-coup-attempt crackdown on journalists and civil servants.
“Turkey’s actions against opposition lawmakers and civil society, newspapers, radio and TV stations and countless teachers and bureaucrats do not conform to our constitutional standards, and they have long gone beyond the search for those responsible for the failed July 15 putsch,” he told reporters.
Steinmeier also had meetings with Prime Minister Yıldırım and President Erdoğan in Ankara on Tuesday.
Following a highly critical EU report last week, the Turkish government has started to employ a bitter rhetoric that made clear its prospects of joining the 28-nation bloc have become more distant. “The latest report published by the EU has both saddened and disturbed us,” Yıldırım said during a meeting in Ankara on Tuesday.