- Title: EU's Juncker warns Turkey's Erdogan on visa deal
- Date: 8th November 2016
- Summary: BRUSSELS, BELGIUM (NOVEMBER 8, 2016) (REUTERS) SUPPORTERS OF TURKEY'S MAIN PRO-KURDISH OPPOSITION PARTY HDP AND KURDISTAN WORKERS PARTY (PKK) HOLDING RALLY OUTSIDE EU INSTITUTIONS BANNER READING (French): "Down with the Fascist Turkish state" AND PORTRAITS OF JAILED HDP LEADERS VARIOUS OF DEMONSTRATORS HOLDING SIGNS SHOWING PORTRAITS OF JAILED HDP LEADERS DEMONSTRATORS HOLDING FLAGS OF THE NORTHERN SYRIA-BASED WOMEN'S PROTECTION UNITS AND WITH PHOTO OF JAILED PKK LEADER ABDULLAH OCALAN
- Embargoed: 23rd November 2016 13:05
- Keywords: EU European Commission President Juncker Kurds Protest Turkey Erdogan Brussels Belgium European Council visa
- Location: BRUGES AND BRUSSELS, BELGIUM
- City: BRUGES AND BRUSSELS, BELGIUM
- Country: Belgium
- Topics: European Union,Government/Politics
- Reuters ID: LVA00257L4MKN
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker delivered a personal warning to Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan on Tuesday (November 8) that he would be held responsible if Ankara fails to meet EU criteria for granting Turks visa-free travel.
An EU offer to liberalise its visa system was part of a deal in March under which Turkey has agreed to all but halt the flow of Syrian refugees and other migrants into the EU via Greece.
But Juncker said in a speech at the opening ceremony of the College of Europe new academic year in Bruges that visas would not be eased if Turkey fails to meet criteria, including amendments to its anti-terrorism law.
"If tomorrow we refused visa liberalization for Turkey, the blame should not be put on Europe but on the Turkish authorities. Mister (Turkish President Recep Tayyip) Erdogan will have to explain to the Turks why they cannot travel freely across Europe like every other Europeans, because he will be the one who has not fulfilled the conditions jointly agreed between Turkey and the European Union," Juncker said.
The comment came as some hundred supporters of Turkey's main pro-Kurdish opposition party HDP gathered outside the European institutions to denounce the arrests of the party's leaders in a probe linked to "terrorist propaganda" a week earlier.
Selahattin Demirtas and Figen Yuksekdag, co-leaders of the Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP), were jailed pending trial after being held in overnight raids, officials said. Ten other HDP lawmakers were also detained, although some were later released.
Attending the protest, former HDP lawmaker Kemal Aktas accused Erdogan of trying to silence all opposition to his Islamist-rooted AK Party.
"What happened in the night of November 3 is a continuation of a process that started back in July 2015 with the elections. By not respecting the election results, Erdogan has perpetrated a coup on democracy. The events of the past few weeks are the consequence of this. This coup is still intensifying. They want to silence and arrest all the democratic forces," Aktas said.
The arrests drew international condemnation and triggered fresh calls in the EU to abort membership talks with Ankara.
On the eve of issuing an annual assessment of Ankara's progress towards EU membership, the bloc's executive European Commission made clear it still wanted to cooperate with Turkey despite "extreme worry" over democratic standards, human rights and fundamental freedoms there.
The EU is at a delicate stage of its relationship with its large Muslim neighbour, which acts as a buffer between Europe and an unstable Middle East.
Both Turkey and the West back rebels fighting in Syria and a March deal between Brussels and Ankara halted the flow of refugees and migrants to the EU after a million people arrived last year.
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