Davutoglu accuses EU of 'dirty campaign' against Turkey
ANKARA - Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu on Sunday accused the European Union of starting a "dirty campaign" against Turkey by criticising the arrests of opponents of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Turkey's already stalled membership bid to join the EU has suffered a further blow amid the row with the 28-nation bloc over last weekend's raids on journalists, scriptwriters and police.
Speaking at a congress of his ruling party in Ankara, Davutoglu lashed out at the EU for rushing to issue a statement criticising the raids last Sunday.
"The EU even made its statement on a holiday. With this statement, they started a dirty campaign concerning our government," he told the congress.
"With this dirty campaign, they are waging a defamation campaign against our government and our country," he added.
EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini and Enlargement Commissioner Johannes Hahn had issued an unusually harsh statement condemning the raids as "incompatible with the freedom of media".
The row has been particularly bitter as the pair were only in Turkey a week before for talks seeking to revive its membership bid.
Davutoglu however reaffirmed his insistence that the arrests were not linked to freedom of the press in any way. Erdogan has already told the EU to "mind their own business" over the controversy.
Thirty people were arrested in the raids last Sunday against those deemed to have links to Erdogan's arch foe, US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen.
Most have now been released but a court on Friday remanded in custody on terrorism charges the head of the pro-Gulen Samanyolu TV and three former police chiefs. It also issued an arrest warrant for Gulen himself.