MEPs urge EU to impose fresh sanctions on Turkey

EPP member Loucas Fourlas and Socialist Costas Mavrides are among those backing calls for the EU to take immediate steps to impose fresh sanctions on Turkey in protest at the country’s alleged human rights violations.
Press Association

By Martin Banks

Martin Banks is a senior reporter at the Parliament Magazine

01 Apr 2021

An alliance of rights groups, called StopErdoganNow, has drafted an open letter to EU High Representative Josep Borrell, signed by MEPs and partner human rights and community organisations, demanding that he presses the European Council to “impose tough sanctions on Turkey.”

The calls have taken on a fresh impetus following what is seen as the latest crackdown on human rights in Turkey.

Turkish President Recep Erdoğan last week threatened to ban Turkey’s third political party which attracted six million votes in the most recent elections and stripped a prominent legislator and human rights advocate of his parliamentary seat.

Last Friday, Erdoğan said Turkey would withdraw from the Istanbul Convention, an international accord that seeks to protect women from violence.

Fourlas, a member of the Delegation to the EU-Turkey Joint Parliamentary Committee, said, “We must put our European values above any national interest. We have to decide whether we are promoting values, or business.”

His comments are echoed by Mavrides, chair of the Parliamentary Political Committee for the Mediterranean, who said, “We choose not to be silent against the crimes committed by Erdoğan. We must not follow the failed appeasement policy of the late 1930s towards Nazi Germany, which humanity paid with such a heavy cost.”

Further comment comes from the leader of Renew Europe, Dacian Cioloș, who says, “We cannot forget that Turkey wants to join the EU and has committed to be a democratic state with a strong commitment to the rule of law.”

“The announced withdrawal of Turkey's signature from the Istanbul Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence is just one in a long series of unacceptable and shameful gestures that undermines the credibility of Turkey's democratic commitment.”

“We must put our European values above any national interest. We have to decide whether we are promoting values or business” Loucas Fourlas, EPP

“The Istanbul Convention is an achievement for all women in the world, it is not conceivable to accept any setback. Turkish women can count on our support.”

Speaking recently, Evelyne Huytebroeck, co-chair of the European Green Party, said, “The relationship between Turkey and the EU must absolutely be based on core democratic principles: the respect for human and civil rights and the upholding of democratic and rule of law standards.”

Before last week’s EU summit,  Erdoğan held a brief meeting with Charles Michel and Ursula von der Leyen after which the EU issued a statement which said, “The EU side underlined the importance of sustained de-escalation [in the ongoing Cyprus problem] and further strengthening confidence building to allow for a more positive EU-Turkey agenda.”

Chris Wilson, of StopErdoganNow , said, “The statement issued by the European Council in response to the many aggressions of President Erdoğan’s regime is, as expected, little more than a vague assertion that the bloc will be ‘vigilant.’”

“Its supine language belongs to a parallel world uninhabited by ordinary people, particularly those suffering immeasurably under Erdoğan’s vicious regime.”

“This result will be that yet another report will be submitted to yet another inconsequential meeting of the European Council, which will duly succeed again in failing to criticise, challenge or condemn Erdoğan’s myriad violations of human rights.”

Erdoğan’s regime is said to be responsible for a range of alleged abuses including unilateral provocations against EU Member States Greece and Cyprus, provocative illegal activities in the eastern Mediterranean, and destabilising military aggressions in Syria, Iraq, Libya and Nagorno-Karabakh.

Turkey is also accused of threatening European citizens that “they will not be able to walk safely on their streets”, supporting financing terrorist networks and granting citizenship to members of Hamas, outlawed by the EU as a terrorist organisation.

“We choose not to be silent against the crimes committed by Erdoğan. We must not follow the failed appeasement policy of the late 1930s towards Nazi Germany, which humanity paid with such a heavy cost” Costas Mavrides, S&D

Erdoğan also stands accused of violating human rights of journalists, political opponents, supporters of democracy, women and all voices of dissent.

Parliament, last November, passed a resolution by an overwhelming majority to “impose tough sanctions” on Turkey.

But, despite this, Wilson said, “Appeasement is the policy that the European Commission appears to be practising. Last week, it was briefing journalists that it had ‘ceased work’ on drawing up sanctions on Turkey because of an apparent ‘thaw in relations’. This so-called thaw is evident only to those with their heads in the sand.”

“If the unelected Eurocrats thought that they could get away with brushing the will of Parliament to one side and acting as if Erdoğan is not the danger to European peace and security that he is, then they have had a bad week.”

“Instead of condemning such outrages, Borrell has merely expressed his ‘deep concern’. He had no difficulty, however, in condemning Russia’s expulsion of EU diplomats from Moscow. Why the double standard?”

“Turkey’s record in this area is appalling but Borrell only expresses “concern” rather than calling out, criticising and condemning this latest assault on human rights. Why is he so scared to do so?”

He said, “The response of Ursula von der Leyen and Charles Michel is to seek ‘confidence-building’ to ‘allow for a more positive EU-Turkey agenda’.”

Wilson said, “This is not the language of diplomacy; it is the language of capitulation. Erdoğan is playing our European leaders for the weak, indecisive political amateurs that they are repeatedly confirming themselves to be.”

“The only language that an authoritarian ideologue such as Erdoğan understands is strong actions.”

The StopErdoganNow coalition includes representatives of Aramean Syriac, Armenian, Assyrian, Coptic Cypriot, Pontiac Greek, Kurdish, and Yazidi communities in Europe.

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