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News Analysis: Turkey, EU's showdown over protests further strains ties


18:11, June 14, 2013

ISTANBUL, June 14 (Xinhua) -- Turkey's ongoing unrest has prompted the European Parliament to issue a resolution denouncing police' excessive use of force in quelling the protests, a move rebuffed by Ankara as "null and void."

In a tone of defiance, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said "I do not recognize any decision the European Parliament takes on us ...Those who passed such a resolution, they should look at Greece, (look at) the protests and police response there."

Analysts say the harsh showdown between Turkey and the EU is likely to further strain their already beleaguered ties.

Lale Kemal, a senior political analyst based in Istanbul, said Ankara's mismanagement of the initial peaceful sit-in at Gezi Park created a very negative image for itself in the eyes of the EU countries.

"This protest incident dealt a serious blow to the democratic image of Turkey, which may make its EU accession process even harder in the future," Kemal told Xinhua.

On the other hand, analysts pointed out the Turkish government may no longer care about any opinions of the EU as its accession negotiations have been stalled since 2005.

"The Turkish government's reaction toward the EU's criticism put a question on whether Turkey is still genuine in EU accession efforts," Kemal said.

"No longer deeming joining EU a necessity, Turkey does not want EU to interfere with the Gezi Park protests," Valeria Giannotta, an Italian professor of international relations at Istanbul Sabahattin Zaim University, told Xinhua.

She said Turkey regards the protests as a domestic issue and warned the EU countries not to meddle in them.

"Turkish government even claimed the protest movements are a foreign plot aiming to damage Turkey and accused Western media of creating misconception of Turkey," Giannotta added.

On Monday, EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton called on the Turkish government to stop all violence and investigate the excessive use of force by police immediately.

Both French and German foreign ministers expressed their concerns over the police crackdown on protests this week. German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said Wednesday that the Turkish government is sending the wrong signal at home and abroad with its reaction to the protests.

"We expect Prime Minister Erdogan to de-escalate the situation, in the spirit of European values, and to seek a constructive exchange and a peaceful dialogue," Westerwelle said in a statement.

Facing all the criticism from the EU members, Turkish Foreign Ministry issued a statement on Thursday saying "no country or group of countries can lecture Turkey."

"The EU's dimension of the debate on the situation in Turkey is yet another example of the double standard applied to Turkey," the statement added.

However, a group of EU envoys in Ankara has stated Turkey's EU negotiation would not be suspended due to the protests.

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