Juncker raps Turkey over Germany media row
(BRUSSELS) - European Commission head Jean-Claude Juncker believes Turkey's summoning of Berlin's ambassador over a song on German TV lampooning President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is out of line with EU democratic values, his spokeswoman said Wednesday.
Turkey, a long-standing candidate for EU membership, last week called in the Germany ambassador to protest the airing of a short clip, "Erdowie, Erdowo, Erdogan," which ridicules the Turkish president, his alleged extravagant spending and crackdown on civil liberties.
Asked about the incident, Juncker spokeswoman Mina Andreeva told reporters the head of the EU's executive arm "does not appreciate this movement of calling in the German ambassador just because of a satirical song."
"He (Juncker) believes this moves Turkey further from the EU rather than closer to us," Andreeva said.
"While he appreciates our shared cooperation and shared interest in tackling common challenges this move does not seem to be in line with upholding the freedom of the press and freedom of expression which are values the EU cherishes."
Faced with a flood of refugees from Syria, the EU and Turkey two weeks ago agreed a deal under which Ankara will take back all migrants landing on the Greek islands in exchange for European concessions including cash and an agreement to speed up Turkey's membership bid.
But the deal has sparked criticism that the 28-nation bloc sold out its principles in a desperate bid for Ankara's help, especially after a crackdown on media that oppose Erdogan.
Andreeva recalled that Juncker had said in a recent interview with the Handlesblatt German newspaper "that part of our cooperation with Turkey is precisely to talk openly about these issues and address these issues because we do want that Turkey moves closer to EU standards in this area."
Erdogan has repeatedly rejected any criticism of Turkey's rights record.