ANKARA: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned the European Union Friday that Ankara will not change its anti-terrorism law, despite it being a condition laid down by Brussels to ensure visa-free travel for Turks.
“The EU says: you will change the anti-terror law for visas,” Erdogan said in a televised speech in Istanbul. “Pardon me but we are going our way and you can go yours.”
Erdogan was speaking one day after Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, who had championed the accord, announced that he was stepping down.
Turkey must complete five more benchmarks by the end of next month to complete the EU’s list of 72 criteria which include changes to anti-terror law as well as protection of personal data.
The promise of visa-free travel for Turks is a key pillar of a deal between Brussels and Ankara to reduce the flow of migrants from Turkish territory to the European Union.
A Turkish official said this week talks with the EU were under way to meet the five remaining criteria including changes to the anti-terror law.
“I don’t think it will be a problem,” the official said.
But Erdogan’s comments came a day after Davutoglu announced he would not run in this month’s party congress after a series of disputes with the president.
Davutoglu was the architect of the migrant deal with the EU and had repeatedly held talks with EU leaders on its implementation, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
“Why aren’t you changing your mindset when you allowed terrorists who put up tents close to the EU Parliament?” Erdogan said in a swipe at Brussels, in apparent reference to tents set up by Kurdish activists near the EU Council building in Brussels in March.