Terrorists ‘exploit’ EU rights standards: President Gül

Terrorists ‘exploit’ EU rights standards: President Gül

Terrorists ‘exploit’ EU rights standards: President Gül

Turkish President Abdullah Gül (C), Swedish King Carl XVI Gustaf (R) and Margareta Björk, head of Stockholm City Council, arrive for a luncheon. AA photo

Standards of democracy, human rights, and freedom of expression are very high in Europe, which is sometimes exploited by terror groups, President Abdullah Gül said yesterday during his Sweden visit.

“Unfortunately, terrorists at times abuse these standards. The ones who become entangled in terror and violence join such organizations and … exploit the superiority of Europe’s democracy as a point of weakness,” Gül said in a joint press conference with Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt, after the Turkish and Swedish foreign ministers signed a Turkey-Sweden Strategic Partnership document in Stockholm. “Turkish intelligence services and security forces have always been in close communication with their European counterparts and have shared information when necessary,” Gül added. He also thanked Sweden for its support to Turkey’s EU bid.

Media freedom criticism

For his part, Reinfeldt said Sweden fully supported Turkey’s EU membership and reform steps to join the bloc, but also criticized the state of media freedom in the prospective member state. “Part of the Constitution needs to clearly address the issue of the freedom of the media,” Reinfeldt said, adding that many journalists were being detained under the country’s vaguely defined terrorism laws.

“We hope that a full judicial package adopted by the government will lead to a more narrow definition of terrorism,” he said. Reinfeldt also said Turkey had recorded much progress in minority rights, and praised other aspects of Turkey’s steps toward EU membership. “Sweden fully supports Turkey’s EU membership. We believe that the strategic and economic value of Turkey’s membership is currently higher than ever,” he said, adding that reforms and a new Constitution would help further increase freedoms in Turkey.

Swedish King Carl XVI Gustaf and his spouse Queen Silvia hosted a dinner in honor of President Gül and First Lady Hayrunnisa Gül at the Royal Palace in Stockholm on March 11. Gül said the first presidential visit from Turkey to Sweden would make significant contributions to efforts to carry Turkish-Swedish relations to the future more strongly and more sincerely.

Compiled from AA and AFP stories by the Daily News staff.