Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Monday lashed out at the European Union for criticizing the mass arrests targeting opposition media outlets, telling Brussels to "mind its own business."
"The European Union cannot interfere in steps taken … within the rule of law against elements that threaten our national security," Erdogan said in a televised speech in the western Turkish city of Izmit.
"They should mind their own business," he added, in his first comments after Sunday’s raids.
EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini and enlargement commissioner Johannes Hahn on Sunday condemned police raids as going "against the European values" and said they were "incompatible with the freedom of media, which is a core principle of democracy."
The unusually strongly worded statement followed a visit to Turkey by the two officials last week on expanding cooperation with Ankara and discussing its long-standing bid to join the bloc.
But Erdogan warned EU officials against pressuring Turkey’s prosecutors, judges and police.
"I wonder if those who keep this country at the EU doorstep for 50 years know what this step means?" he said, referring to the arrests.
"Elements that threaten our national security will receive the necessary response, even if they are members of the press," he said.
"When taking such a step we don’t care what the EU might say, or if the EU is going to accept us.
"We don’t care… Please keep your mind to yourself," the combative president added.
Turkish police on Sunday arrested over two dozen people including the editor of Turkey’s biggest-selling newspaper and others in lightning raids on supporters of US-based Turkish cleric Fethullah Gulen, who has become his number one nemesis.
Erdogan slammed EU member states, including Germany, for failing to cooperate with Ankara on a number of issues, including the fight against the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
"Dossiers are being given to you and you say there’s no result but you want to launch an operation against my own country," he said.
SourceAgence France Presse