Turkish PM to EU: We cannot change anti-terror law

Turkish PM to EU: We cannot change anti-terror law

Turkish PM to EU: We cannot change anti-terror law

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Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım said on Sept. 1 that he had made clear to visiting European Parliament President Martin Schulz that Turkey could not ease its anti-terrorism laws, a demand from Brussels in order for Turks to gain visa-free travel to Europe. 

“We have once again bluntly told the EU and Mr. Schulz that we cannot bring in an improvement in the Struggle Against Terrorism Law due to the current conditions. This is a matter of life and death for us. The issue of Turkey’s security is also a must for the struggle against terrorism in Europe. If this is left aside, we see no problem in solving other issues,” the prime minister said. 

Turkish officials have warned Ankara could stop helping stem the flow of refugees and migrants to Europe if the 28-nation bloc failed to relax travel rules for Turks from October as promised under a migration deal struck earlier this year. 

Speaking through a translator, Schulz said the two sides had not agreed on all issues during the talks in Ankara on Sept. 1 and that Turkey must protect basic rights. 

Ankara argues that changing the terror law is impossible since the country is fighting against the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which has escalated its attacks, Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), which has perpetrated bloody bomb attacks in several Turkish cities, and the followers of Fethullah Gülen, the main suspect behind the July 15 failed coup attempt. 

Yıldırım’s words came hours after the European Union’s migration commissioner said on Sept. 1 that Turkey had made progress in a deal to secure visa-free travel for Turkish citizens in the EU but that Ankara still had to meet some benchmarks before implementation. 

Speaking at a news conference in Ankara, EU Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos said the EU was ready to help Turkey fulfill the last details of the deal to secure visa liberalization “very soon,” without giving a precise timeline. 

Ankara and Brussels reached a deal this year in which Turkey would control the flow of migrants to Europe and gain visa-free travel to the European Union for its citizens in return.