BRUSSELS — High-level talks that European Union officials had with Turkey’s foreign minister Tuesday did not appear to ease tensions between the 28-nation bloc and Ankara over a wave of detentions of human rights defenders, journalists, and others.
After the meeting in Brussels, European enlargement commissioner Johannes Hahn expressed ‘‘very strong concern’’ about the detentions, while Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu defended them as a necessary part of his country’s fight against extremism.
Turkey has been mired in a diplomatic row with EU powerhouse and fellow NATO ally Germany following the arrests last week of a group of human rights activists, including a German national, on terror-related charges. Earlier, a German-Turkish journalist was arrested for allegedly spying.
Before the talks in Brussels started, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan signaled that the era of Turkey bowing to Western pressure was over.
The meeting in Brussels was formally about Turkey’s long-stalled bid for EU membership, the fight against terrorism, and energy and trade ties. But the talks were held in the shadow of the sweeping government crackdown that came in the aftermath of a failed coup last year.
More than 50,000 people have been detained since the July 15, 2016, coup attempt. Critics say the purge initially targeted people suspected of links to the leaders of the failed military takeover, but has expanded to include government opponents.