Turkish FM slams EU chief’s remarks on terror arrests

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu has accused the head of the European Parliament of defending the terrorist group PKK after the latter criticized the detention of journalists and opposition lawmakers on terror charges, according to Anadolu Agency.

“They are defending the PKK very well. Was there any statement from Schulz and those who think like him after our governor was martyred?” Cavusoglu told reporters when asked about the European Parliament’s President Martin Schulz’s earlier remarks on arrests targeting journalists and lawmakers.

The Turkish minister was referring to Muhammet Fatih Safiturk, the governor of Mardin’s Derik district, who succumbed Friday to wounds sustained in a PKK terrorist attack.

European Parliament President Martin Schulz had said the European Union has to think of economic sanctions to introduce against Turkey for its persecution of the opposition, according to  Al-Manar News.

“We in the European Union should consider what economic sanctions we can impose against Turkey. The reform of the EU Customs Union, of which Turkey is a member, should happen before the end of the year. I cannot imagine that after a wave of arrests of the opposition delegates and journalists, we will expand the Customs Union,” Schulz told the German Bild am Sonntag newspaper. The European Union will halt talks about Turkey joining the bloc, if Ankara introduces capital punishment, Schulz added, reported Al-Manar News.

“[Martin] Schulz’s threatening statements have no effect on us,” Cavusoglu told reporters in the Turkish capital Ankara following a meeting with his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi.

“First, [he] should stop the activities of the PKK in the European Parliament,” Cavusoglu said.

“If he is strong enough, he should be using this discourse against those supporting terror in the EU member countries,” he added.

The Turkish minister said that Schulz would do whatever was necessary to impose economic sanctions against Turkey.

Earlier this month, Martin Schulz, the European Parliament’s president, reacted to the arrest of 11 journalists from the Cumhuriyet daily in Istanbul and Ankara as well as the arrest of lawmakers from Turkey’s opposition Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) on terror charges.

Media reports said he had indicated that the EU could impose sanctions on Turkey following the anti-terror operations.

The PKK — listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the U.S., and EU — resumed its decades-old armed campaign in July last year. Since then, more than 300 civilians and nearly 800 security personnel have been martyred. Around 8,000 PKK terrorists have been killed or apprehended.