Response from EU Parliamentarians to Turkish Minister: ~don’t make your and our task more difficult

Two members of European Parliament (MEPs) have reacted to Turkish EU Affairs Minister Egemen Bağış in a joint statement due to his remarks against European parliamentarians who recently approved a resolution that criticized the Turkish government to the police crackdown on ongoing protests over a government plan to redevelop an İstanbul park.

Responding to European criticism, Bağış accused some European officials and politicians of making “irresponsible” statements and “talking nonsense” for the sake of media attention.

“Some parliamentarians should understand that there is a price to pay for talking this comfortably and daringly about Turkey’s internal matters,” he said in a statement on Thursday. “Turkey is not a banana republic.”

In response to Bağış’s statement, EU-Turkey Joint Parliamentary Committee Vice Chairman Maria Eleni Koppa and British Socialist MEP Richard Howitt said in a joint statement, “It is disappointing that the Turkish politician with the greatest responsibility to lead his country towards the European Union has chosen to use words which can only make his and our task more difficult.”

Koppa and Howitt further stated that they will be joining the cross-party delegation of MEPs in Ankara in the coming week, “hoping that discussions with Mr Bağış and his colleagues can take place with courtesy and respect on both sides.”

“Our concern about the Turkish authorities’ reaction to the protests concerns their capacity to deal with democratically-expressed opinions, even if they disagree with them. In his statement, we are sorry that Mr Bağış seems to be contributing to the problem rather than the solution,” they added.

Turkey has been rocked by violent demonstrations for more than two weeks since police launched on May 31 a pre-dawn raid on a peaceful sit-in protesting plans to uproot trees in Taksim’s Gezi Park in İstanbul. Since then, the demonstrations by mostly secular-minded Turks have spiraled into Turkey’s biggest anti-government disturbances in years, with police using tear gas and water cannons to break up the protests.

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