EU officials and rights groups have accused Turkey of using its broad anti-terrorism legislation to stifle dissent. Ankara says it needs the laws to battle Kurdish militants at home and threats from Islamic State in neighbouring Iraq and Syria.
Brussels wants Turkey to narrow its legal definition of terrorism and change some other laws to meet EU standards – as part of the wide-ranging deal to secure Turkish help in reducing the flow of migrants into Europe.
But Ankara’s minister for EU affairs, Volkan Bozkir, told broadcaster NTV on Wednesday there would be no changes to terrorism laws, saying the legislation already met EU standards.
“It is not possible for us to accept any changes to the counter-terrorism law,” Bozkir said.
Wednesday’s repeated refusal, and Bozkir’s assertion that there had never been a deal over the laws, will likely alarm EU officials already worried by the departure of Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, the main Turkish broker of the accord.
Davutoglu announced last week he would step down from his post, after weeks of tension with President Tayyip Erdogan. On Friday, Erdogan told the European Union that Turkey would not make the changes, saying: “we’re going our way, you go yours”.
One Erdogan adviser and a member of parliament for the ruling AK Party, Burhan Kuzu, tweeted late on Tuesday: “The European Parliament will discuss the report that will open Europe visa-free for Turkish citizens. If the wrong decision is taken, we will send the refugees.”
Europe is counting on Turkey to maintain the migration deal that has helped to sharply reduce the flow of refugees and migrants via Turkish shores. More...