EU policymakers continue to condemn Turkey over failed coup repercussions

Particular concern has been expressed over "repressive and excessive" measures against several public sectors, including the academic and research community.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan | Photo credit: Press Association

By Martin Banks

10 Aug 2016


The European Federation of Academies of Sciences and Humanities (ALLEA) has voiced "alarm" at the "repressive and excessive" nature of recent measures against several public sectors in Turkey, including the academic and research community.

It says these have been carried out by the Turkish government and "compliant" civil servants in response to the recent failed coup. 

The comments come with Turkey still in the throes of major civil unrest following the botched coup. Up to 200 of those involved in attempted coup are said to be still at large.


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A spokesperson for ALLEA told this website, "In particular, we have grave concern and alarm that apparently 1577 university deans have been suspended, thousands of licenses of teachers have been cancelled, all academics have been banned from leaving Turkey, and Turkish academics have been called back from abroad."

He added, "We strongly condemn these and any other punitive or preventive actions taken without distinction, depriving academics and researchers from their fundamental rights, particularly the right to freedom of expression, freedom of movement, freedom of assembly as well as the right to exercise their profession without politically or ideologically motivated constraints."

The spokesperson went on, "We urge the Turkish government to halt these measures and to return to, respect and safeguard the principles of academic freedom and autonomy for both individuals and institutions in the science and higher education sectors in Turkey. 

"We stand in solidarity with our Turkish colleagues in these difficult times and we particularly support the academicians and staff in our member academies located in Ankara and Istanbul."

He said the body called on the European institutions, national governments as well as fellow scientists and scholars across Europe and beyond to "express their support" for the academic and research community in Turkey.

Elsewhere, S&D group Vice-Chair Knut Fleckenstein has condemned Turkey for "moving in the wrong direction."

The German MEP said, "Our position is very clear - we support visa liberalisation for all countries that fulfil the relevant benchmarks.

"This is the case for Turkish citizens as it is for citizens of any other country. However, in reaction to the recent coup attempt, Turkey is moving in the wrong direction. We will not be blackmailed into accepting visa liberalisation by an increasingly autocratic regime in Ankara. 

"Although Turkey is an important partner in solving the refugee crisis, the only lasting solution will be a common European one. The Council must now prepare for the situation that Turkey pulls its support for the refugee deal and be ready with a credible alternative plan."

Fleckenstein added, "The EU must continue to push Turkey to respect fundamental human rights and the rule of law. Turkish citizens must understand that if they want visa liberalisation then it is up to their government to act and meet the necessary requirements. We will not accept it any other way."

Meanwhile, European Parliament President Martin Schulz has responded to a letter sent by the Federation of Western Thrace Turks in Europe (ABTTF) about the closure of two branch offices of the Western Thrace Minority University Graduates Association (WTMUGA) in Komotini by the Greek authorities. 

In its letter, ABTTF said the two branch offices of WTMUGA were closed down on the grounds that the branch offices were unlicensed nurseries. 

ABTTF, though, claims this is a part of a strategy of "deterrence and fear" by the Greek authorities and a "clear restriction to the use of the mother tongue by minority children through social and cultural activities."

In his response, Schulz said he had written to fellow MEP József Nagy, a Slovakian EPP group member, who is rapporteur for fundamental rights in the EU.

 

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