ANKARA (AA) - Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim has ruled out any changes to Turkey’s anti-terrorism laws.
In remarks made during his address to parliamentarians in Justice and Development (AK) Party group’s meeting in Ankara Tuesday, Yildirim said Turkey “is in a struggle for the country's unity, solidarity and perpetuity.”
"Under these circumstances, it is out of question to change our anti-terror laws. Even if this costs visa-free travel, let it go."
The EU and Turkey signed a deal on March 18, which aims to discourage irregular migration through the Aegean Sea by taking stricter measures against human traffickers and improving the conditions of nearly three million Syrian refugees in Turkey.
The deal also allows for the acceleration of Turkey’s EU membership bid and visa-free travel for Turkish nationals within the Schengen area, on the condition that Ankara meets 72 requirements set by the EU.
While Turkey fulfilled most of the criteria last month, differences between Brussels and Ankara on anti-terror legislation have forestalled the visa liberalization deal.
According to EU, Turkey must revise its “legislation and practices on terrorism in line with European standards" in order for visa liberalization for Turkish citizens to enter into force.
But Ankara has firmly rejected any such change, stressing that it is not realistic to expect such changes at a time when Turkey is fighting terror organizations such as the PKK and Daesh.
Turkish premier also highlighted Turkey's fight against the terrorist group PKK since last July. "The state took every necessary measure to provide peace and security of its people," Yildirim said.
The PKK – listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the U.S. and the EU – resumed its 30-year armed campaign against the Turkish state in July 2015.
Since then, over 500 security personnel, including troops, police officers, and village guards, have been martyred, and more than 5,000 PKK terrorists killed in operations across Turkey and northern Iraq.
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The premier also talked about the German parliament's recent approval of a non-binding resolution recognizing Armenian claims of "genocide" during the 1915 events.
"When you look at the history books, you cannot see Turkey with anything related to genocide," Yildirim said. "Our ancestors ruled for 619 years with friendship and toleration, and never let any sect or religion to fight against each other."
Adopted by the lower house of the German parliament on June 2, the non-binding resolution accused the Ottoman government of 1915 of allegedly carrying out “systematic genocide” against Armenians, as well as other Christian minorities.
Turkey denies the alleged “genocide”, but acknowledges that there were casualties on both sides during the events taking place in World War I.
According to Turkey's viewpoint, deaths of Armenians in eastern Anatolia in 1915 occurred after some sided with invading Russians and revolted against Ottoman forces. A subsequent relocation of Armenians resulted in numerous casualties.
Turkey describes the 1915 events as a tragedy for both sides.
Ankara has repeatedly proposed the creation of a joint commission of historians from Turkey and Armenia plus international experts to tackle the issue.