European Parliament voices concerns over democracy and fundamental rights in Turkey
REUTERS PhotoTurkey must put its reform process at the center of domestic policy choices and commit “unequivocally” to democratic rules and principles, which are at the heart of the EU, the European Parliament said in a resolution on the 2014 reform progress in Turkey, while members of European Parliament (MEP) particularly underlined their concerns over the independence, impartiality and efficiency of the judiciary, and the separation of powers.
MEPs urged Turkey to respect media freedom, free expression and judicial independence, while also welcoming the recent parliamentary elections at a plenary session held June 10.
“Turkish voters have indicated they want change. Our reaction should not be to shut the door,” said the rapporteur on Turkey, Kati Piri. “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, according to a press release posted on official website of the parliament.
The Turkish government must guarantee media freedom “as a matter of priority,” said MEPs, 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.”
The European Parliament has condemned the Turkish government’s attempts to ban access to social media and websites, the intimidation of journalists and other pressures put on them. The parliament said the transgression “calls on the Council to start talks on justice and fundamental rights in order to promote effective reforms” and “stresses that Turkey must show more political will to create a proper legal framework for the fight against corruption.”
According to the European Parliament, the June 7 parliamentary election demonstrated the “resilience of Turkish democracy and the democratic spirit of its citizens.” It welcomed “the most inclusive and representative parliament in Turkish modern history, reflecting the country’s diversity,” while also calling on all political parties to work towards the establishment of a stable and inclusive government which reinvigorates the democratization process in Turkey and its reform dialogue with the EU.
The MEPs also called on the European Commission, urging it to review the conduct of the EU accession negotiations with Turkey and consider how EU-Turkey relations could be improved and intensified. They also asked the Commission to support the Turkish government’s efforts to conclude the peace process through socio-economic and educational programs in the southeast of Turkey, referring to the government-led initiative aimed at ending the three-decade long conflict between Turkey’s security forces and militants of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
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 said. They also underlined that more must done to boost people-to-people contacts, not least through visa liberalization.
MEPs called on the leaders of both Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot communities to resume talks, under the auspices of the U.N. Secretary General, on reunifying Cyprus.
“Turkey must begin to withdraw its troops and transfer the Famagusta area to the U.N., 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 said. Turkey should also “refrain from further settlement of Turkish citizens in the occupied areas of Cyprus,” MEPs added.