Recent actions taken by Turkey with regards to human rights are concerning to the EU, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas has said, as Ankara and Brussels continue to lock horns on a range of policy matters.
Turkey’s decisions to withdraw from an accord designed to protect women from abuse and to ban a pro-Kurdish political party raise questions about Ankara’s commitment to upholding human rights, Maas suggested. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan issued a decree last week annulling his nation’s ratification of the Istanbul Convention, a 10-year-old Council of Europe pact on preventing and combating violence against women. The move coincided with a Turkish judicial decision that called for the banning of the pro-Kurdish HDP, the country’s third-largest political party. Speaking before a meeting with his EU counterparts in Brussels, Maas expressed unease with the latest developments in Turkey.
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“The ban of the HDP and particularly the pullout of the Istanbul Convention are absolutely the wrong signals,” the top German diplomat said. “Regarding Turkey, there is light and shadow,” Maas added, explaining that the EU would engage in dialogue to address issues where “we believe Turkey is sending the wrong signals.”His comments follow a statement released by European Commission which expressed “deep regret” over Erdogan’s decision to withdraw from the Istanbul Convention without any internal debate. The Commission said that the accord “upholds women’s fundamental human right to a life free from violence,” and that leaving the agreement would “deprive Turkey and Turkish women of a vital tool to counter violence.”
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On a positive note, Maas said that there were signs of de-escalation in the ongoing dispute between Turkey and Greece in the eastern Mediterranean. Both nations have claimed maritime rights to gas deposits in the area, exacerbating a decades-old rivalry between Ankara and Athens.Last year, the EU imposed sanctions on several Turkish officials and entities allegedly involved in gas drilling in the eastern Mediterranean, a move that infuriated Ankara. Relations continued to sour after France launched a crackdown on Islamic extremism in response to a string of terrorist attacks in the country. Erdogan condemned the move, labeling his European counterparts as “fascists” for their alleged “hostility” towards Islam and Muslims.Like this story? Share it with a friend!