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2,000 protesters face police tear gas, EU delays Turkey talks

(Turkey-file photo)

Al Ahed news

Turkish riot police fired tear gas and water cannon early on Wednesday to disperse some 2,000 protesters in the capital Ankara, making 16 arrests.

Protesters had gathered overnight in the Dikmen district of the capital and attempted to erect barricades to block traffic on a main artery.

Local television pictures showed demonstrators chanting against the release of a police officer who stands accused of fatally wounding a 26-year-old protester during the country’s recent unrest.

Protests initially sparked by a brutal police action against a local conservation battle to save Istanbul’s Gezi Park snowballed into nationwide demonstrations against the Islamic-rooted government, leaving four dead and nearly 8,000 injured.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government has been widely criticized for its handling of the crisis, with the United States and other Western allies condemning the use of excessive police force against protesters.

On Monday, Erdogan praised the police for their “heroism” in dealing with the protesters.
Meanwhile, Turkey’s bid for membership of the European Union has hit another stumbling block, with member states postponing a new round of talks for at least four months.

The EU further criticized Turkey’s crackdown on anti-government protests and delayed the talks on Tuesday, a day before they were originally due to start.

Germany, backed by Austria and the Netherlands, blocked the planned talks, saying it would send the wrong signal so soon after police cracked down on protesters in Turkish cities.

EU governments did accept the talks in theory, agreeing to open negotiations on so-called Chapter 22, one of 35 sets of rules and regulations that candidate states must satisfy before gaining entry to the club, at some point this year.

The talks are likely to open properly in October, after the German elections which have been playing a strong role in Chancellor Angela Merkel’s foreign policy of late.

It was the first movement on the virtually frozen Turkish bid for three years.

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