Asharq Al-awsat English Middle-east and International News and Opinion from Asharq Al-awsat Newspaper

Turkey: EU Out of Line for Demanding Release of Kurdish Leader

Turkey: EU Out of Line for Demanding Release of Kurdish Leader

Saturday, 24 November, 2018 - 10:45
Turkey's FM Cavusoglu meets with EU Foreign Policy Chief Mogherini and European Commissioner for European Neighborhood Policy Hahn in Ankara on Thursday. (Reuters)
Asharq Al-Awsat
Turkey criticized on Friday the European Union for going “out of line” in demanding the release of jailed Kurdish leader Selahattin Demirtas.

EU Foreign Policy Chief Federica Mogherini made the call Thursday during a press conference with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu in Ankara.

Mogherini and European Commissioner for European Neighborhood Policy Johannes Hahn were in the Turkish capital to discuss Turkey’s membership bid in the EU.

"She exceeded her limits a little," Cavusoglu told CNN-Turk television a day after Mogherini’s comments on Demirtas, who has been held in Turkey for two years on terror charges.

Demirtas, 45, one of two former co-leaders of the leftist Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP), was arrested in November 2016 over alleged links to Kurdish militants.

The Strasbourg-based European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) on Tuesday urged Ankara to release Demirtas -- who hailed the move as "legal acknowledgment of my status as a political hostage".

The court accepted Demirtas had been arrested on "reasonable suspicion" of having committed a crime, but said the reasons given for keeping him behind bars were not "sufficient".

Demirtas denies all the charges and claims the case against him is politically motivated.

Cavusoglu described the ECHR ruling as motivated by politics, not the law, and said the case would be determined by Turkey’s courts.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan also rejected the European court's finding.

"The decisions delivered by the ECHR do not bind us," he said.

Demirtas on Friday accused the government of putting "political pressure" on the Turkish appeals court to uphold his "completely unlawful" sentence, in a statement released by his party.

"We are witnessing a clear political intervention," he said.

"The aim here is to sentence me with another contrived political decision to keep me imprisoned, before the ECHR implements its decision."

But he remained defiant, saying: "We will never bow down, and we will stand tall with determination, our spirits high."

He added: "We will, soon or later, emerge victorious in our struggle for law, justice, freedom and democracy."

Editor Picks