Go your own way, Erdogan tells EU

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan greets his supporters during an opening ceremony in Istanbul, Turkey on Friday. (REUTERS)
Updated 06 May 2016

Go your own way, Erdogan tells EU

ISTANBUL: President Tayyip Erdogan told the European Union on Friday that Turkey would not make changes to its terrorism laws required under a deal to curb migration, and declared: “we’re going our way, you go yours.”
His fiery speech will be a blow to any hope in European capitals that it might be business as usual with Turkey after Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, who negotiated the migration deal with Europe and had largely delivered on Turkey’s commitments so far, announced he was standing down.
The EU asked member states on Wednesday to grant visa-free travel to Turks in return for Ankara stopping migrants reaching Europe, but said Turkey still had to change some legislation, including bringing its terrorism laws in line with EU standards.
“When Turkey is under attack from terrorist organizations and the powers that support them directly, or indirectly, the EU is telling us to change the law on terrorism,” Erdogan said in a speech at the opening of a local government office in the conservative Istanbul district of Eyup.
“They say ‘I am going to abolish visas and this is the condition.’ I’m sorry, we’re going our way, you go yours. Agree with whoever you can agree,” he said.
Visa-free travel is for many Turks the biggest benefit of Ankara’s deal with the EU. Europe, meanwhile, is counting on Turkey to maintain an agreement that has helped stem the flow of refugees and migrants via Turkish shores, which saw more than a million people reach Greece and Italy last year.
Davutoglu’s departure consolidates the power of Erdogan, who has been highly critical of the EU in the past and who is seen in Brussels as a far tougher negotiating partner less closely wedded in recent years to Turkey’s ambition of joining the EU.


Syria’s Bashar Assad cuts tax for low-income workers

Updated 56 min 33 sec ago

Syria’s Bashar Assad cuts tax for low-income workers

  • It also amends other tax tranches to ‘reduce the tax burden on those with limited income’

BEIRUT: Syria’s President Bashar Assad moved on Wednesday to exempt more low-wage earners from income tax, his office said, as the economy buckles under the weight of US sanctions and nearly a decade of war.
The legislative decree, the first such amendment in years, widens the tranche of low-income workers exempt from tax to cover those earning $40 (50,000 Syrian pounds) or less per month, up from $12 (15,000 Syrian pounds). It also amends other tax tranches to “reduce the tax burden on those with limited income,” the presidency said.
Syrians have suffered from steep price hikes in recent months as the collapse of the currency drives up inflation and piles on hardship. The economy has been hit also by a financial crisis in neighboring Lebanon that has choked off a key source of dollars.
In a separate decision, the presidency also said Assad was giving a one-time grant of $40 (50,000 Syrian pounds) to all employees in state institutions including in the army. Retired public workers would get $32 (40,000 pounds).