Head of the European Union (EU) Delegation to Turkey, Ambassador Nikolaus Meyer-Landrut said that Turkey's judiciary should adhere to European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) rulings, BBC Turkish reported on Oct. 25.
Meyer-Landrut's remarks came amid President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's order to declare 10 Western ambassadors "persona non grata" after they called for the release of prominent philanthropist Osman Kavala.
Saying that he wouldn't "speculate" on Turkey's next steps concerning the ambassadors, Meyer-Landrut noted that "a reasonable step" would be for Turkey to adhere to institutions of the European Commission as a founding member.
"The European Court of Human Rights is one of these institutions, and Turkey is expected to act in compliance with the ECHR rulings," said the ambassador.
Erdoğan said on Oct. 23 that he had told his foreign ministry to expel the ambassadors of the United States and nine other Western countries for demanding the release of Kavala.
Kavala has been in prison for four years, charged with financing nationwide protests in 2013 and with involvement in a failed coup in 2016. He denies the charges.
In a joint statement on Oct. 18, the ambassadors of Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Finland, New Zealand and the United States called for a just and speedy resolution to Kavala's case, and for his "urgent release." They were summoned by the foreign ministry, which called the statement irresponsible.
Kavala was acquitted last year of charges related to the 2013 protests, but the ruling was overturned this year and combined with charges in another case related to the coup attempt.
Rights groups say his case is emblematic of a crackdown on dissent under Erdoğan.
The ECHR called for Kavala's immediate release in late 2019, saying there was no reasonable suspicion that he had committed an offense, and finding that his detention had been intended to silence him.
During the interview, Meyer-Landrut noted Turkey's regression on human rights, the rule of law and independence of the judiciary in the most recent EU Progress Report.
"This report really examines a possible EU membership, but this result shows that the Copenhagen criteria are not being adhered to, so we can say that all negotiations are frozen. The issues in the report wouldn't even be enough to fix things."
The EU delegation head said that in the meantime, there was no reason why the international body and Ankara couldn't "collaborate on international agendas such as the climate, health, immigrants and immigration."
The EU report observes progress being made in a country in political criteria such as internal affairs and justice, the ambassador added.