Erdogan tells EU 'we'll go our way, you go yours' over anti-terror laws

The president's statement came a day after Turkey's prime minister who negotiated the deal stepped down

Samuel Osborne
Friday 06 May 2016 17:17 BST
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan greets his supporters during an opening ceremony in Istanbul, Turkey, 6 May, 2016
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan greets his supporters during an opening ceremony in Istanbul, Turkey, 6 May, 2016 (Reuters)

Turkey's president has told the EU his nation will not reform its anti-terrorism laws for the sake of visa-free travel to Europe.

"We'll go our way, you go yours," President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said. "Go make your agreement with whoever you can."

The EU had asked Turkey to revise its harsh terrorism legislation as a condition for allowing Turkish citizens to travel to Europe for short stays without visas.

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But Mr Erdogan wants Turkish law to impose a broader definition of terrorism, at a time when the country faces the twin threats of renewed conflict with Kurdish militants in the southeast and increasing attacks carried out by Isis.

"The EU at the moment is saying, 'you will change your anti-terrorism law for visas,"' the president said during a speech in Istanbul.

Addressing European leaders, he countered: "You allow terrorists to set up tents next to the European Parliament. Why don't you change your mindset?"

His comment is a reference to tents set up by the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK, near the EU parliament in Brussels.

Ahmet Davutoglu speaks during a news conference in Ankara (Reuters)

The president's statement came a day after prime minister Ahmet Davutoglu, who had negotiated the deal, stepped down.

The premier's resignation has been perceived as a result of a difference in opinion on key questions with the president, including the possibility of resuming peace talks with Kurdish militants, press freedom, and more importantly Mr Davutoglu's lukewarm support for reshaping Turkey into a presidential system.

"In order to be strong, we need to rapidly present a presidential system which is the guarantee of stability and trust to the approval of the people," Mr Erdogan said.

There has been little uproar inside Turkey over the possibility it could be sliding toward dictatorship.

Analysts suggest that's because the president continues to enjoy a high degree of popularity. They also point to the long history of electoral success by Mr Erdogan and the Justice and Development Party (AKP).

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