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German president criticises Turkey rights abuses

AFP | Last Updated: Monday, April 28, 2014 - 22:38

Ankara: Germany`s president told Turkey on Monday that its future lies with Europe but the relationship is threatened by the government`s recent attempts to muzzle the media and judiciary. 

"We see this nation`s future in cooperation with Europe, although we cannot tell how and when because we don`t know," President Joachim Gauck told a news conference during a landmark four-day visit. 

Turkey began talks on joining the EU in 2005 but its path has been stalled by opposition from existing members and, increasingly, by concerns over the authoritarian actions of its prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

"Does Twitter and YouTube have to be banned? Why does such a powerful government interfere in the judiciary or the media?" Gauck asked, referring to Erdogan`s recent moves to ban social media amid a widening corruption scandal.

He said he would raise these questions when he met Erdogan later in the day.

Erdogan`s crackdown on the media and judiciary is driven by his concern that a "parallel state" orchestrated by powerful US-based cleric Fetullah Gulen is responsible for the corruption probe and other attempts to undermine his government. 

"I don`t think the government is under threat. It is a strong government which has won legitimacy with the elections," said Glauck, referring to Erdogan`s latest emphatic win in local elections last month.
Germany opposes Turkey`s full membership in the EU and instead hopes to establish a "privileged partnership" -- an option that Ankara categorically rejects.

First Published: Monday, April 28, 2014 - 22:38

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