High-ranking Turkish official criticizes EU 'double standards' vis-à-vis PKK militants

November 7, 2016 7:40 pm

Turkish Minister of European Union Affairs Omer Celik speaks after meeting EU ambassadors in the capital, Ankara, on November 7, 2016. (Photo by Anadolu agency)

A high-ranking Turkish official has directed strident criticism at the European Union over what he described as the bloc’s double standards towards members of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
Turkish Minister of European Union Affairs Omer Celik told reporters after meeting EU ambassadors in the capital, Ankara, on Monday that dual policies within EU institutions over the PKK militant group was condemnable.
“We are going through an extremely fragile period in Turkish-EU relations. The European Union must regulate the double standards within EU institutions on PKK,” Celik said.
He further denounced the recent decision by a Belgian court to refuse to recognize PKK activities as terrorism.
“The ruling by a Belgian court not to recognize PKK as a terrorist organization is a direct attack on the European Convention of Human Rights. This is no longer about . reacts every time there is a matter regarding PKK. They present this as if this is a problem of ,” he said.
“Let me say this clearly, a court ruling rejecting PKK as a terrorist organization and saying PKK could not be defined as a terrorist organization during clashes, considers Turkey, a member of the United Nations, as equal to a terrorist organization,” the Turkish minister pointed out.
On Thursday, a lower court in Brussels refuted charges brought against 36 suspected PKK members. The defendants were accused of recruiting teenagers in Belgium and other “Western countries” and sending them for training in PKK camps in northern Iraq. The PKK suspects were also accused of forging documents and extortion.
The PKK is listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the EU and the US.
Celik also criticized as “racist” calls by some Western powers to suspend Turkey’s accession negotiations with the EU over the massive crackdown on journalists and political rivals of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
European officials have been increasingly critical of Turkey’s crackdown on people suspected of affiliation to US-based opposition cleric Fethullah Gulen, whom the Ankara government accuses of having masterminded the July 15 coup attempt.
Gulen has, however, censured the coup attempt and roundly rejected any involvement.
Turkish nationwide television news channel NTV, citing Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag, reported on October 23 that security forces had arrested more than 35,000 people over alleged links to Gulen. He added that another 3,907 individuals were going to be arrested.
The minister said some 82,000 people had been investigated in connection with the failed coup, and that tens of thousands of them had been suspended, dismissed or jailed.
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