Thursday, March 31, 2016

EU chides Turkey over president song row

The European Union on Wednesday criticized Ankara for summoning Berlin's envoy over a song mocking the Turkish leader on German TV, a friction at a delicate time when the bloc counts on Turkey's help on migration under a controversial deal.

Turkey last week summoned Germany's ambassador to protest the two-minute clip "Erdowie, Erdowo, Erdogan," which ridicules the president, his alleged extravagant spending and crackdown on civil liberties. The song is set to the tune of German pop star Nena's 1984 love song "Irgendwie, Irgendwo, Irgendwann" (Anyhow, Anywhere, Anytime) and was screened on regional broadcaster NDR's Extra 3 show on March 17.

The German-language lyrics charge, among other things, that "a journalist who writes something that Erdogan doesn't like/Is tomorrow already in jail."

"This move doesn't seem to be in line with upholding the freedom of the press and freedom expression, which are values the EU cherishes a lot," Mina Andreeva, a spokeswoman for the European Union's executive arm, told a daily news briefing.

The spokeswoman said the European Commission's head Jean-Claude Juncker "believes this moves Turkey further [away] from the EU rather than closer to us."

A German diplomatic source confirmed Tuesday that Ambassador Martin Erdmann had held repeated talks with the Turkish foreign ministry over the song.

"In these talks he made clear that the rule of law, judicial independence and the protection of fundamental freedoms, including of the press and of expression, are valuable assets that should be jointly protected," said the German source.

Rights groups and the West regularly criticize Ankara for its track record on human rights but the EU has still sealed a deal with Ankara on March 18 to return all migrants and refugees reaching European shores from the Turkish coast.

Berlin, the key driving force behind the Turkish deal, has said press freedom was nonnegotiable in its ties with Ankara.

The EU hopes the migration agreement, badly criticized by rights groups, would give it breathing space as it struggles to control an influx of people fleeing wars and poverty in the Middle East and beyond.
  Source:Agencies -

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