Germany has issued a revised travel advisory to Turkey following the unexplained rejection of three German journalists’ press credentials.
“The fact that German correspondents can not freely pursue their work in Turkey is unacceptable to us,” German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas tweeted on Saturday.
Turkey’s refusal to renew these German journalists’ press credentials has revived old tensions over freedom of speech. Following a failed coup attempt against Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in 2016, the Turkish government has since issued mass arrests that included German citizens.
Monday’s Raw Politics saw MEPs discuss what is behind Turkey's controversial decision.
British MEP Steven Woolfe suggested Erdogan has leverage because of a refugee agreement made with the EU, which was part of an attempt to stop the influx of migrants into the bloc.
"First of all with the European Union he has power ... he can open the doors and allow millions of Syrians and other migrants who currently resting in his country, and he can allow them to flood Europe and that's what he would do — and he's threatened to do that. And we begged him not to by giving him 6 billion euros."
Woolfe also suggested that Turkey's waning interest in joining the EU is partly because the country is looking to be a bigger player on the world stage amidst shifting geopolitics in its region, with global powers such as Russia and China nearby.
When illustrating what Turkey's perspective would be, he said: “Perhaps it’s time for us as Turkey — as a nation with a huge population, a very strong army, a really big military — to say that we could influence what goes on in the world,” he said.
"And I think that's more of what it's got to do with it. [Erdogan's] saying: I'm equal to you, I'm not a supplement to the European Union. You need me more than I need you."
Ana Miranda, a Green Spanish MEP, said her group wants to “freeze negotiations” on Turkey joining the EU due to Erdogan’s erosion of the rule of law.
Watch the full Raw Politics debate by clicking on the player above.