EU Parliament expresses 'real concerns' over situation in Turkey

Written by Martin Banks on 8 February 2018 in News

MEPs have adopted a resolution condemning the “deteriorating” human rights situation in Turkey.

Recep Tayyip Erdoğan | Photo credit: Press Association

The Erdoğan regime and Turkey’s military invasion of Afrin in Syria both came under intense scrutiny in a European Parliament debate on Thursday.

The resolution comes amidst the rising death toll in north-western Syria.

MEPs in Strasbourg expressed “real concerns” about the ongoing state of emergency and Ankara’s “continuous” repression against the Kurdish population.


The debate was told that for months now, the Turkish government has purged scores of opposition members, especially the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), judges, teachers, journalists and NGOs.

Since mid-January, the Turkish army has also embarked on a military offensive to “crush” Kurdish forces in north-western Syria, the debate was told.

British S&D group deputy Neena Gill said that while she supported the resolution she also believes “more focus” should be given to the Turkish action in Afrin, which she branded a “blatant violation of international law.”

She said, “The Turkish regime is teaming up with Isis to kill Kurdish fighters. What we are currently seeing is akin to ethnic cleansing.”

Further comment came from GUE/NGL group MEP Takis Hadjigeorgiou, who condemned Turkish actions and affirmed his support for the Parliament’s resolution urging Turkey to respect the rule of law and human rights.

He told the plenary, “The situation in Turkey is deteriorating while the constant state of emergency has dealt a heavy blow to the country’s democratic institutions. The proposed resolution adequately describes the worrying situation in the country. 

“We express solidarity with the leaders of the HDP who are currently in prison, and we oppose the expulsion, imprisonment and replacement of the 68 Kurdish mayors with state-appointed officials.”

French MEP Marie-Christine Vergiat questioned the wisdom of the Turkish campaign in Syria and the EU’s “lack of a proper response,” adding, “Thousands of people are languishing in prisons without charge or access to a lawyer. 

“There are also reports of torture. Officials, lawyers, magistrates and human rights defenders are bearing the brunt as shown by the targeting of journalists from Cumhuriyet and staff at Amnesty International. However, minorities - particularly the Kurds - have suffered the most.

“The intervention in Syria has been used as an excuse to reinforce the state of emergency and harden the crackdown. Does the rule of law, human rights and international law still mean anything in the EU?” 

German MEP Martina Michels called for an end to the state of emergency and Turkey’s intervention in Syria.

She said, “Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s emergency decree 696 - granting impunity to political violence - marked the conclusion of the constitutional review heralded by the 2016 coup attempt.  Mob justice is legal but peaceful protest, political opposition and media criticism have been outlawed. Teachers and scientists are also being targeted.

“Tens of thousands have already been expelled from their homes in Cizre and Diyarbakır - long before the state of emergency had come into force. Now that Turkey has launched a military intervention in Syria, where are the condemnations from the EU, Nato and Russia?

“A peaceful solution to the Kurdish issue would improve the human rights situation throughout the region. Instead of dirty deals on refugees and arms sales, what the region needs are humanitarian aid and an end to war.”

Irish MEP Seán Kelly accused the Erdoğan regime of “showing no respect” for religious groups in the country, adding, “It’s horrible what is going on and, if it continues, there is no way the EU can countenance possible accession status for Turkey.” 


About the author

Martin Banks is a senior reporter for the Parliament Magazine

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