Turkey, Luxembourg top diplomats quarrel over human rights in Turkey
The foreign ministers of Turkey and Luxembourg have argued over the tiny European nation’s official’s criticisms on the state of democracy in Turkey and a potential unilateral military intervention by the Turkish army into Syria.
“Although we understand the reaction of the Turkish government after the failed coup, we are concerned over some of the measures taken and their long-term effects. On top of our concerns is the continued imprisonment of journalists, academics and civil society representatives,” Luxembourg’s Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn said at a press conference with Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu following a bilateral meeting in Ankara on Jan. 14.
The visiting minister referred to measures taken by the government in the aftermath of the July 2016 coup attempt by FETÖ, which claimed the lives of more than 250 people.
Tens of thousands of people were arrested or dismissed from their jobs during a two-year state of emergency imposed in the wake of the coup attempt in what Ankara called a bid to clear FETÖ-linked bureaucrats from state institutions.
The EU has severely criticized Turkey over the mass purge and for imposing restrictions on the use of fundamental freedoms. It stalled full membership negotiations with Turkey due to what it called the deterioration of democratic standards.
Respecting universally accepted judicial principles, like presumption of innocence and taking some concrete steps on human rights issues in cooperation with the European Union and Council of Europe are among expectations from Turkey, Asselborn added, citing EU concerns over the rule of law in Turkey.
The minister, however, renewed Luxembourg’s continued support for Turkey’s full membership to the EU, while welcoming recent steps taken by the Turkish government on improving the state of human rights and democracy in Turkey.
Çavuşoğlu, for his part, blamed Asselborn for repeating the “arguments and distorted facts used by terror organizations such as the YPG, PKK and FETÖ.” “I have suggested that we could get an appointment from our Justice Ministry for him so that he can learn the real situation with facts,” he stated.
European countries have never criticized each other when one of them, like France or Belgium, declared state of emergency to fight against terrorism, Çavuşoğlu said. “We cannot accept when European countries, including Luxembourg, remain silent on measures taken by fellow EU countries in the name of solidarity but try to give Turkey a lesson. What we want to see is sincerity. I should say that we reject all these [criticisms],” he added.
Differences on Syria
Çavuşoğlu also criticized Asselborn’s call for Turkey not to intervene into Syria unilaterally.
“If you are concerned about our unilateral acts, then come and let’s fight against terror together. What we have been doing so far in Syria against the PKK and Daesh are also very important for the security of Europe,” he said, using another acronym for ISIL.
The reason for such erroneous statements is the EU’s failure in not being able to distinguish Turkey from terrorist organizations, the minister said. “You say you want Syria’s independence. Yes, the U.N. Security Council’s resolution 2254 says the same thing. But this terror organization occupies 33 percent of Syria with the purpose of dividing Syria. Why are you silent on this?” he said.
Asselborn, in return, recalled Syria had witnessed several military actions since the beginning of the civil war, and the international community, including Luxembourg, believes there is no military solution to the existing problem in the war-torn country.
He also appreciated Turkey’s efforts in avoiding a new human tragedy in Idlib province of Syria and hosting more than three million Syrians on its territories. The minister said he will visit refugee camps in Turkey’s border city of Gaziantep during his trip to Turkey.