Turkish prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan met with all three EU presidents on Tuesday during his first visit to Brussels in five years.
Though discussions were meant to be about recent deals signed and Turkey’s accession, controversial plans to reform Turkey’s justice system were brought up.
“I stressed that Turkey as a candidate country is committed to respect the political criteria of accession, including the application of the rule of law and separation of powers. It’s important not to back track on achievements and to ensure that the judiciary is able to function without discrimination or preferences,” said European Council President Herman Van Rompuy at a news conference with Erdogan and the European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso.
Erdogan’s government is dealing with a corruption scandal and a number of judges and policemen have been sacked or reassigned. He wants the justice minister to have more power and defended his plans.
“If the judiciary moves away from being independent, by acting in a partisan way, there will be serious issues. In order to avoid these problems, it’s up to Turkey’s parliament to make the necessary changes to ensure justice is independent and unbiased,” Erdogan told reporters.
Euronews correspondent Gülsüm Alan who covered the event said: “Here in Brussels, European leaders and the Turkish prime minister stuck to their positions. While Erdogan announced that he needs more progress in the accession negotiations, the European authorities delivered the message that the EU is closely following the latest events in Turkey.”