World News

European condemnation of Turkish crackdown comes too late, says opposition editor

PARIS (Reuters) - European condemnation of the crackdown in Turkey that followed the attempted coup in July has come too late, with the country now “burning”, the former editor of a leading opposition newspaper said on Tuesday.

Slideshow ( 4 images )

Turkish authorities on Saturday ordered that the editor and senior staff of Cumhuriyet newspaper be arrested pending trial and more pro-Kurdish officials were detained. Critics say President Tayyip Erdogan is out to crush legitimate opposition.

“We’ve been pushing European governments to take steps and say something about oppression in Turkey, but they kept silent,” Can Dundar, former editor of Cumhuriyet, told reporters after being made an honorary citizen of Paris.

“Now they are trying to say that they are concerned, but it’s a bit late to be concerned because the country is burning at the moment.”

Ankara has drawn stronger criticism in recent days, but European Union diplomats see little prospect of punitive measures.

Since an agreement with the EU in March, Turkey has helped to stem the flow of migrants from its shores to the EU via Greece, after a million people arrived last year.

“Erdogan wants a one-party state and one-man regime, he is pushing that and he is using the state of emergency to build up this kind of state,” said Dundar, who was released from prison in February and left Turkey for Germany.

Since the failed coup 170 media organisations have been closed, leaving some 2,500 journalists unemployed, according to the Turkish journalists’ association.

France’s Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said on Tuesday he was “deeply concerned” and it was time for a “frank and clear” dialogue with Turkey.

“Turkey has a right to defend itself, but not at the cost of the rule of law,” he told lawmakers.

Reporting by Marine Pennetier and John Irish; editing by Andrew Roche