EU rejects Turkey’s demand to open new chapters

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(LtoR) Turkey's Minister for EU Affairs Ömer Çelik, Turkey's Foreign Affairs Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice-President of the European Commission Federica Mogherini and European Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations Johannes Hahn give a joint press conference following the EU-Turkey High Level Political Dialogue meeting at the EU headquarters in Brussels on July 25, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / JOHN THYS

During a “dialogue” meeting on Tuesday between Turkish and European Union officials in Brussels, a demand made by Turkey to open new chapters for EU accession was rejected by the EU.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu and EU Affairs Minister Ömer Çelik had a meeting with Johannes Hahn, the European commissioner for neighborhood policy and enlargement negotiations, and High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini.

In response to Çelik’s demands for the opening of new accession chapters, Hahn said it was not possible for the moment and that they were worried about arrests and freedom of expression in Turkey.

Hahn also referred to visa liberation for Turkey and reiterated that the EU would keep its promise as long as Turkey met the conditions.

Criticizing a crackdown in Turkey since last year’s failed coup, the EU officials sent the message that Ankara’s demand to join the bloc would not be met unless there is an end to human rights abuses.

Referring to the crackdown on dissident voices in Turkey, Mogherini said, “We have witnessed a worrying pattern of imprisonments of a large number of members of the democratic opposition, journalists and human rights defenders in Turkey.”

“There are journalists, soldiers and politicians who helped the coup attempt last year. They need to face the sentences that are necessary,” Çavuşoğlu said in response to criticism of the trial of journalists and the arrest of 10 rights activists.

A recently released quarterly press report by the Contemporary Journalists’ Association (ÇGD) has revealed that 318 journalists were detained and 103 of them were jailed in Turkey over the past year, since the failed coup attempt on July 15, 2016.

Turkey’s Justice Ministry announced on July 13 that 50,510 people have been arrested and 169,013 have been the subject of legal proceedings on coup charges since the failed coup.

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