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EU, Citing Backtracking On Human Rights, To Cut Aid For Turkey's Membership Bid


Amnesty International activists wear handcuffs during a protest against the arrest of rights activists in Turkey, including Amnesty International's Turkey director, near the Coliseum in Rome, on July 20.

European Union leaders have agreed to reduce financial assistance for helping Turkey get ready for EU membership due to Ankara's backtracking on commitments to the rule of law and human rights, EU leaders said on October 20.

Speaking at a summit in Brussels, German Chancellor Angela Merkel called the human rights situation in Turkey "absolutely unsatisfactory," but said she wants to "avoid a showdown" and not "break bridges" with the NATO ally.

Merkel said she wants to keep talking to Turkey and said there is no consensus among EU leaders to completely end membership talks with Turkey, which have been under way since 2005.

Merkel said the bloc's executive arm will work on proposals to cut 4.45 billion euros of aid the EU agreed to provide Turkey to help it prepare for membership.

"This was clearly not successful," Austrian Chancellor Christian Kern said.

Merkel and other EU leaders praised Turkey for helping stop a large flow of migrants into Europe under a 2016 deal in exchange for a pledge to accelerate membership talks.

Since that deal was signed, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's government has waged a broad crackdown on dissent, arresting more than 50,000 citizens as well as a number of Western journalists and human rights activists.

Based on reporting by AP, AFP, dpa, and Reuters
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