EU delays critical Turkey report until after election

EU delays critical Turkey report until after election
The European Commission is delaying the release of a highly critical human rights report in a move than can only help Turkey's ruling party a week before a key election.
3 min read
26 October, 2015
Kurds rally in Berlin to protest against the Turkish government [Getty]
The European Commission is delaying the release of a critical report into the human rights situation in Turkey the week before national elections on Sunday 1 November, Die Welt am Sonntag has reported.

The commission's report is "sharply critical of the human rights and rule of law situation in Turkey", the German newspaper said.

This is the second time the release of the report has been delayed, and comes a week after Germany Chancellor Angela Merkel met with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in support of a deal between the European Union and Turkey to stem the flow of refugees through Turkey into Europe.

Die Welt am Sonntag claimed to have seen an unpublished draft of the report, which claims Turkey's government is "backsliding on civil rights", the right-wing Breitbart website reported on Sunday.

The report covers what it describes as the routine intimidation of journalists and activists, the excessive use of force, and Turkey's treatment of homosexuals and its minority Kurdish population.

It also criticised the government's fixation on the Kurdish separatist PKK, apparently at the expense of the Islamic State group.

The commission's report is sharply critical of the human rights and rule of law situation in Turkey
Erdogan has already said that the more than three billion euro Turkey has been promised as part of the deal is insufficient, and that Turkey wouldn't stop all refugees from travelling on to Europe.

A plan to "fast track" Turkey's membership of the EU is also part of the deal.

The election is the second to be held this year, after a 7 June poll in which Erdogan's Islamist Justice and Development Party (AKP) failed to secure a majority for the first time in 13 years and the failure of subsequent coalition talks.

The AKP's failure to win an outright majority is widely seen as a setback to Erdogan's ambition to change the constitution of Turkey into a powerful executive presidency.

The AKP failed to secure a majority at the first poll due to a surge in popularity for the pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP), which accused Erdogan and his party of whipping up national sentiment in advance of the fresh election, while launching a security crackdown in the country's mainly Kurdish southeast.

Violence in Japan

Violence erupted between outside the Turkish embassy in Tokyo, Japan, as Kurds and Turks gathered for early voting on Sunday, al-Jazeera reported.

The fighting erupted when Kurds tried to display a pro-Kurdish party's flag, a witness told a Japanese news channel.

Ali Ayyildiz, a Kurd, said that Erdogan supporters taunted Kurds outside the embassy and started a brawl, the channel reported.

According to the Japanese Foreign Ministry, 3,600 Turkish citizens live in the country.

Kurds raise concerns in Germany 

Meanwhile, Turkish Kurds in Germany have accused the Turkish government of making it difficult for them to cast their ballots, Rudaw, a news website based in Iraqi Kurdistan, reported on Monday.

Two Turkish Kurds in Frankfurt told Rudaw they were prevented from voting by "undefined problems" with their passports, even though the Turkish consulate in the city had told them they were entitled to vote.

Others complained about being registered to vote in polling stations hundreds of kilometres from where they lived.

"I don't believe that it will be possible to vote at all, due to all those stalling tactics," said Dilan Ozbas, a 23-year-old Turkish Kurd in Dusseldorf registered to vote in Berlin.

The same thing had happened to her mother and a Kurdish friend, she added.