PM rules out changes to Turkey's anti-terror laws
Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said Thursday there would be no change in the country's anti-terrorism laws -- a key condition of a visa-free travel agreement between the European Union and Turkey.
"We once again reiterated that we cannot make an adjustment to the anti-terror laws due to the circumstances that we face today," he told a joint news conference with European Parliament President Martin Schulz in Ankara.
Yildirim said the anti-terror laws were a matter of Turkey's security as well as Europe's fight against terrorism.
Both Yildirim and Schulz pointed to Europe and Turkey’s difference of opinion on anti-terrorism practices.
Schulz said there has been no progress towards the visa-free travel deal due to these differences, while Yildirim stressed that "flexibility in anti-terror laws is out of the question".
Stressing that Turkey has been fighting fiercely against all terror types including the PKK/PYD, YPG and Daesh, Yildirim added: "We believe our European friends can understand us."
Schulz was on his first visit to Turkey after the July 15 defeated coup organized by the Fetullah Terrorist Organization, or FETO.
Referring to a "lack of strong voices [from Europe] against the coup attempt", the Turkish premier said the extent of the coup is better understood today.
"FETO is difficult to grasp at first glance," Yildirim said, "because it is a closed and non-transparent organization. No matter how closely you follow its activities, it is still impossible to understand the extent of the danger."
"It is a global threat," he said.
'Terrifying' coup attempt
Schulz said Europe strongly condemned the coup attempt and that the resistance of unarmed Turkish citizens was an honorable act.
However, Schulz said it was thought-provoking "how quickly the alleged supporters of the coup attempt could be identified in the following days" and "that thousands of people were arrested in 48 to 72 hours [after the attempt]."
Schulz said "despite that terrifying coup attempt, a democratic state of law should handle each case separately".
He pointed out that the most significant criteria showing the quality of democracy was freedom of the media and of expression.
Yildirim told Schulz that Turkey was a state of law and that the judgment procedure would continue in accordance with the principle of separation of powers.
He also responded to concerns in Europe about the arrest of journalists during anti-terror operations.
"No journalist can ever support a terror organization or participate in its activities," he said. "Those [arrested] here are different. They have the journalist's [press] card, but they are actively supporting FETO."
The pair also discussed developments in Syria and Iraq, as well as the issue of refugees, Yildirim said.
Last Modified: 2016-09-02 07:25:24
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