Turkey’s President Tayyip Erdogan has rejected easing anti-terror legislation in exchange for visa-free travel for Turkish citizens in the European Union.
Erdogan told EU states, “We’ll go our way, you go yours,” in a statement released on Friday, just a day after the resignation of his Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu.
Davutoglu – who negotiated the deal with EU states – is believed to have stepped down after a rift with the Turkish president.
European leaders wanted Turkey to reverse recent anti-terror measures in exchange for allowing Turks to visit the EU without visa for stays of up to 90 days.
The laws were brought in after a number of attacks carried out by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) group and Kurdish separatists, respectively.
The government says that the laws will allow it to take on the groups more effectively but critics say the country’s leadership is unfairly targeting opponents.
Recent actions taken under the anti-terror laws include proposals to strip Turkish citizenship from people accused of backing the separatist Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and the closing of newspapers such as Zaman.
The government seizure of the daily, owned by United States-based Fethullah Gulen, came at the request of a state prosecutor investigating the Islamic leader on terrorism charges.
Critics of Erdogan say the former prime minister is trying to increase his power by expanding the role of the president, which was previously largely ceremonial.
On Friday the Turkish leader said that a rapid switch to a presidential system over the current parliamentary system would make the country stronger and more stable.
The ruling AK party, to which both Erdogan and Davutoglu belong, is expected to select a new prime minister.[Source: Al-Jazeera]