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Nobel laureate Pamuk chides EU for ignoring Turkey's rights record

Jan. 31, 2016 - 22:06 By 신현희

ANKARA (AFP) -- Internationally acclaimed Turkish writer Orhan Pamuk has accused the European Union of turning a blind eye to the state of democracy in Turkey because of its cooperation in the migration crisis, local media reported on Sunday.

"They have forgotten all their values," Pamuk told the Hurriyet newspaper in an interview, referring to the EU, adding that the fight against the Islamic State group and the migrant crisis had "tied Europe's hands".

Brussels reached an agreement with EU hopeful Turkey in November to encourage Ankara to keep refugees inside its territory, after a mass influx of migrants crossed into the EU last year, stoking tensions in several member states.

The deal also gave new momentum to Turkey's years-long push to become a member of the EU, which had long been held up by several issues including its human rights record.

Pamuk criticised the 28-nation bloc for ignoring Turkey's recent record in freedom of expression under the rule of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's Justice and Development Party.

"They are looking to us as they looked to Saudi Arabia once upon a time: If (Turkey) is doing what we want, we don't care what they do at home."

Pamuk lamented recent developments in Turkey, including the detention of leading opposition journalists Can Dundar and Erdem Gul on charges of revealing classified information.

The two journalists with the Cumhuriyet newspaper are facing multiple life sentences on charges of revealing state secrets in a report that alleged Erdogan's government tried to send arms into Syria.

"I am a person who says 'let's talk about literature only' but it is no longer possible," Pamuk said.

"You cannot sit and write your novel when Can Dundar is in jail."

An advocate of Turkish membership of the EU, Pamuk said: "In democratic countries, people do not have to repeat like a parrot the opinions of the (party) that won the last election."

The author, who was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2006, has just completed a new novel "The Red-Haired Woman," which will be released in Istanbul on Tuesday.