Erdogan's reaction surprises EU foreign policy chief

Türkiye Materials 16 December 2014 08:00 (UTC +04:00)
The EU foreign policy chief expressed surprise Monday over Turkish president’s remarks criticizing the bloc’s reaction to a crackdown on local media figures and police in Turkey.
Erdogan's reaction surprises EU foreign policy chief

The EU foreign policy chief expressed surprise Monday over Turkish president's remarks criticizing the bloc's reaction to a crackdown on local media figures and police in Turkey, Anadolu agency reported.

Federica Mogherini said she was "very surprised."

Earlier, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan slammed the European Union for its "impetuous" criticism of an ongoing police operation, which saw the arrests of more than 20 high-profile media members and police officers across 13 provinces in Turkey Sunday.

"I've seen the reactions from President Erdogan and I'm very surprised because in the visit we had last week, we discussed in a very constructive way, both with him and with Prime Minister Davutoglu and with many of the ministers about the way ahead, and we agreed...we didn't even need to agree on the fact that there was a chance for a new start among us, between the European Union and Turkey," Mogherini said.

She said "the EU path for Turkey was not so much about economic interest, but of about values and principles starting with democracy and rule of law."

''I believe that it is in the Turkish interest first of all to be consistent with this commitment,'' Mogherini said.

She said: "The idea was and still is that of working in a consistent and coherent way on the EU accession, which means consistency and coherence on both sides."

Mogherini said that had she not believed in this consistency and coherence, she wouldn't have paid a high-level visit to Turkey last week with Johannes Hahn, commissioner for European neighborhood policy and enlargement policy, and the EU's Christos Stylianides.

''On our side we are ready,'' the EU foreign policy chief added.

In his reaction to the crackdown in Turkey, Italian Foreign Minister Paolo Gentiloni said "freedom of speech cannot be renounced."

"Italy has always been in the front row in keeping the dialogue between the European Union and Turkey open," Gentiloni tweeted during a meeting of the European foreign ministers in Brussels. "But the freedom of expression is a value that cannot be renounced," he added.

Speaking to reporters in Brussels, Gentiloni also said "we don't want to give lessons to anyone, but we want to recall that for the European Union, freedom of expression is among the fundamental principles of the union."

Gentiloni said the EU foreign ministers did not discuss the arrests in Turkey, but, he said, Italy was "a country that has its cards in order" for good relations with Turkey and that "nobody can accuse it of having prejudiced attitudes," given that Rome "always fought" for increased relations between Ankara and the EU.