The European Commission expressed concern Wednesday at Turkey's crackdown against hunger-striking prisoners, even as EU ministers approved a 135 million Euro (121.9 million dollar) grant to Ankara.
"We are worried," said Jean-Christophe Filori, spokesman for EU Enlargement Commissioner Guenter Verheugen, after 19 people were killed in an ongoing operation that began Tuesday.
"We call upon all parties to stop the violence in order to reach a peaceful outcome," he said.
Outside European Commission headquarters, several dozen chanting protesters condemned the assaults in Turkey. The demonstration was organized by the Revolutionary People's Liberation Front, a Turkish communist group.
Turkey's bid for EU membership was recognized by EU leaders a year ago, but Ankara cannot open accession talks with Brussels until it is seen to have improved its human rights record and democratic institutions.
To assist Turkey with reforms, the EU Council of Ministers approved Wednesday a three-year, 135 million Euro grant for projects that include "the defense and promotion of human rights," a commission statement said.
Funds will also go towards development projects in eastern Turkey, home to the country's big Kurdish minority, and improvements to the environment, energy, telecommunications and transport -- BRUSSELS (AFP)
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