Turkey sending wrong signals to EU on human rights, says Germany

Ankara is sending the wrong messages to the European Union by exiting from a European treaty protecting women’s rights and looking to shut down the pro-Kurdish opposition Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said on Monday.

Maas made the remarks during a meeting with bloc counterparts, Reuters reported.

“What we have seen in the last few days, the ban of the HDP and particularly the pullout of the Istanbul Convention, are absolutely the wrong signals,” the German official said.

An overnight presidential decree on Saturday annulled Turkey’s ratification of the Istanbul Convention geared towards preventing gender-based violence against women in a move that has been met with international condemnation and protests by women across the country.

The country has also moved to shut down the pro-Kurdish HDP. Prosecutors applied to Turkey’s Constitutional Court to shutter the HDP on Wednesday, citing the party’s alleged links to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and its failure to condemn terrorism. Turkey’s government says the HDP supports the PKK, which is an autonomy-seeking armed group labelled as terrorist by the United States and the European Union.

“Regarding Turkey, there is light and shadow,” Maas said. “We will have to discuss these mixed signals coming from Turkey today, and we will continue to aim for an ongoing dialogue - and we will use this dialogue to address issues where we believe Turkey is sending the wrong signals.”

Maas also pointed to the conflict between Turkey and Greece over hydrocarbon resources in the eastern Mediterranean, saying there were signs of a de-escalation.

Turkey's deployment of vessels to search for oil and gas off Cyprus last summer stoked tensions in the region, where a number of countries are vying for the rights to hydrocarbon resources, prompting the EU to threaten Ankara with sanctions last year.