Press release – MEPs concerned about democracy and fundamental rights in Turkey

Turkey must put its reform process at the centre of domestic policy choices and commit “unequivocally” to democratic rules and principles, which are at the heart of the EU, say MEPs in a resolution on the progress of reform in Turkey in 2014. They urge Turkey to respect media freedom, free expression and judicial independence and welcome the recent parliamentary elections.

The European Commission should review the conduct of the EU accession negotiations with Turkey and consider how EU-Turkey relations could be improved and intensified, MEPs say. They also ask the Commission to support the Turkish government’s efforts to conclude the peace process with the Kurdish community, through socio-economic and educational programmes in the south-east of Turkey.

“Turkish voters have indicated that they want change. Our reaction should not be to shut the door,” said the rapporteur, Kati Piri (S&D, NL). “This report also clearly calls for more, not less, engagement with Turkey at all levels,” she added after her report was approved by 432 votes to 94, with 127 abstentions.

Parliament says the elections demonstrated the “resilience of Turkish democracy and the democratic spirit of its citizens” and welcomes “the most inclusive and representative parliament in Turkish modern history, reflecting the country’s diversity”. It calls on all political parties to work towards the establishment of a stable and inclusive government which should reinvigorate the democratisation process in Turkey and its reform dialogue with the EU.

Respect press and internet freedom; fight corruption

MEPs are concerned about the independence, impartiality and efficiency of the judiciary and the separation of powers in Turkey. The Turkish government must also guarantee media freedom “as a matter of priority” , they say, asserting that its action against freedom of the press and plurality of opinion is incompatible with EU fundamental rights and “conflicts with the spirit of the negotiations process”.

Parliament condemns the Turkish government’s attempts to ban access to social media and websites, the intimidation of journalists and other pressures put on them. It again calls on the Council to start talks on justice and fundamental rights in order to promote effective reforms. It stresses that Turkey must show more political will to create a proper legal framework for the fight against corruption.

Step up foreign policy cooperation and face-to-face contacts

EU-Turkey foreign policy cooperation and counter-terrorism dialogue must be stepped up, and Turkey must use all its resources to fight terrorist groups such as the so-called Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), MEPs say. They also underline that more needs to be done to boost people-to-people contacts, not least through visa liberalisation.

 

Cyprus

MEPs call on the leaders of both communities to resume talks, under the auspices of the UN Secretary General, on reunifying Cyprus. Turkey must begin to withdraw its troops and transfer the Famagusta area to the UN, while the Republic of Cyprus should open the port of Famagusta under EU customs supervision and allow Turkish Cypriots to trade with the EU in a legal manner they say. Turkey should also “refrain from further settlement of Turkish citizens in the occupied areas of Cyprus”, MEPs add.

Procedure: Non-legislative resolution

Human Rights