- Associated Press - Saturday, May 7, 2016

ANKARA, Turkey (AP) - Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Saturday again hit at Europe for demanding that his country reform its anti-terrorism legislation as part of a deal that would allow Turkish citizens visa-free travel in Europe.

The EU is asking Turkey to revise its broad terrorism legislation before sealing the visa deal, which itself is part of a wider agreement under which Turkey is helping halt the flood of migrants to Europe.

Erdogan, on the contrary, is pressing for an expanded definition of terrorism at a time when the country is faced with the twin threats from Kurdish militants and the Islamic State group.

Erdogan’s strong words against Europe, and the imminent departure of Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu who negotiated the deal, have raised questions about the future of the EU-Turkey pact.

Speaking at a rally in the southeast city of Malatya, Erdogan once more accused the EU of supporting the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, which has waged a decades-long insurgency in Turkey and is designated as a terrorist organization by Turkey and its allies.

“Those who say ‘change your terrorism laws’ must first remove the tents at the entrance and at the side of the European Parliament,” Erdogan said. It was a reference to PKK symbols which Turkish officials say were seen at demonstrations and tents set up near the EU’s parliament building.

“Those who criticize us because of our struggle against terrorism, shelve democracy and freedoms when the bombs explode on their own territories,” Erdogan said.

Erdogan, who has stepped up his anti-western rhetoric over the years, also said “the Islamic world is looking at Turkey,” Erdogan said.

“As I defy the whole world, I know that the entire country, and especially the people of Malatya are behind me,” he said.

Davutoglu, considered a moderating force to Erdogan’s increasingly authoritarian style of governing, announced that he will be stepping down later the month, following a growing rift with Erdogan, including over the president’s ambition to change the largely ceremonial presidency into a post with executive powers.

Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC.

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