EU’s budget chief expects Turkey aid to be cut due to post-coup crackdown

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Germany's European Commissioner for the digital economy and society Guenther Oettinger attends a hearing in front of an European Parliament committee on the transfer of his portfolio to the budget and human resources commission, at the European Parliament in Brussels, January 9, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / EMMANUEL DUNAND

Guenther Oettinger, European commissioner for budget and human resources, said on Monday that he expects billions of euros in aid to bring Turkey closer to the EU to be suspended due to the Turkish government’s crackdown on opponents following a failed coup in July 2016.

Speaking to the German Bild daily on Monday, Oettinger said the 4.3 billion euro ($5.1 billion) fund that had been intended to bring Turkey closer to Europe, including aid to train judges and prosecutors, scheduled to continue until 2020, might be suspended, The Associated Press reported.

Oettinger was quoted as saying that “in view of the political developments in Turkey, I can’t imagine that such projects will continue to be funded.”

According to a Reuters story last week, a German government paper mentioned a number of other measures it would like to see implemented at the European level to increase financial pressure on Turkey to respect the rule of law.

The paper also said the European Commission should look into suspending all pre-accession aid to Turkey if the need arises.

It added that Germany expected the commission to “shift funding away from Turkey in a way that is meaningful compared to the overall funding Turkey receives under IPA [Instrument for Pre-accession Assistance] schemes.”

Ankara’s relations with Berlin have been strained since Turkey’s crackdown on opposition groups, including journalists and human rights defenders, after a botched 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.

According to a tally by TurkeyPurge.com, nearly 146,000 people have been dismissed from government jobs, more than 122,00 detained and almost 57,000, including judges, prosecutors, police officers, soldiers and civil servants, arrested over links to the Gülen movement.

The Turkish government has also seized the assets of thousands of companies and jailed their owners over their alleged financial support for the movement.

Fethullah Gülen, whose views inspired the movement, strongly denies the accusations leveled by the Turkish government.

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