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German politician says EU chiefs’ Turkey visit means support for ‘autocrat’ Erdoğan

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Sevim Dağdelen, a Kurdish-German politician from the German Left Party, has said a visit to be paid by the European Union’s top two officials to Turkey on Tuesday means the EU is standing behind the policies of “autocratic” President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen and European Council President Charles Michel were to meet with Erdoğan in a rare visit to Ankara on Tuesday.

Dağdelen, who spoke to the Neuen Osnabrücker Zeitung, a German regional daily, said the EU leaders are sending the wrong message to Turkey with their visit, which comes just after the Easter holiday.

Dağdelen said plans to renew the customs union with Turkey would give Erdoğan full freedom to continue his repressive policies and efforts to silence the opposition.

In a “carrot-and-stick” approach, the EU, which has been criticized for failing to take a tougher stand against widespread human rights violations under Erdoğan’s rule, is dangling the possibility of updating the customs union, visa liberalization, providing more money for refugees and increased dialogue with Turkey on several fronts.

The German politician called on the EU to put an end to granting Erdoğan privileged economic and financial aid as well as arms support.

According to the newspaper, 61 German citizens are behind bars in Turkey, 14 of whom face charges of membership in a terrorist organization. Sixty-two German citizens in Turkey face a travel ban, and 38 of them are accused of having links to terrorist groups.

The Turkish government launched a massive crackdown in the country on non-loyalist people in the aftermath of a failed coup in July 2016 under the pretext of an anti-coup fight.Hundreds of thousands of people have been subjected to legal proceedings and thousands have been jailed on bogus terrorism or coup charges.

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