Foreign Minister Børge Brende says he made it clear to top Turkish officials during a visit to Ankara on Tuesday that Norway was worried about the arrests of more than 20 Turkish journalists over the weekend.
Brende told news bureau NTB that he’s worried about the status of press freedom and freedom of expression in the country. His remarks followed strong objections to the arrests from officials in the European Union, who claim the arrests defy European principles and can threaten democracy. Those arrested are viewed as opponents of the increasingly powerful Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
He responded with a thunderous speech that basically told the EU to mind its own business. Erdogan claimed the EU shouldn’t meddle in Turkish affairs that were carried out legally.
Brende received much the same message during his meetings with Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu and government minister Efkan Ala. Brende said they claimed the arrests were part of a process initiated by state authorities and that they were outside political control. “The answer we got was that they can’t interfere with the authorities,” Brende told NTB.
Brende said he thinks the EU and Turkey will continue to discuss Turkish membership in the EU, “but Turkey must meet a series of demands to qualify. One area involves freedom of expression, press freedom and freedom of assembly. They (Turkish officials) must show a genuine willingness to document progress in these areas,” Brende said.