• 15-SEP-2016

  • Strasbourg, France

  • SOURCE: S&D Group at European Parliament

Turkey can emerge stronger if it defends pluralism and justice

The Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament expressed grave concerns about the current level of democracy in Turkey during a debate in the Parliament's plenary session today.  The S&D Group urged the Turkish government to fully respect fundamental human rights and the rule of law in the aftermath of the unacceptable military coup, and underlined the need for the Turkish authorities to ensure access to lawyers and a fair trial for all citizens involved.

S&D MEP and vice-president responsible for foreign affairs, Knut Fleckenstein said:

"Turkey is and will remain one of our most important partners, as a NATO member and as a candidate for EU membership. But I remain very concerned about the current developments in Turkey, such as the suspension and detention of numerous academics and journalists – and the recent removal of 28 elected mayors. It is more important than ever that we keep the dialogue going with the Turkish government in order to help stabilise the political and democratic situation.”

S&D MEP and vice-president for foreign affairs Victor Boştinaru said:

"Turkey took the path towards democracy and secularism many decades ago and has strengthened its position as a credible actor on the international scene. However Turkey’s recent choices seem to undermine these commitments. Since the coup attempt, the Turkish government has overseen a vast purge. We call on Turkey to respect the right to justice and to a fair trial for all its citizens and for foreigners living in Turkey.

"Yesterday again we condemned another despicable terrorist attack in the Van region. Co-operation between Turkey and the EU on counter-terrorism should be a priority for both sides.
"We also urge Turkey to play a constructive and responsible role in finding a political solution for Syria, in the fight against the so-called Islamic State and in managing the flow of Syrian refugees."

S&D MEP and European Parliament rapporteur on Turkey Kati Piri said:

"It is understandable that in the aftermath of the failed coup a number of measures had to be taken, but the current situation leaves us very concerned. 

"It is difficult to understand what the link is between respected journalists like Aslı Erdoğan and the coup plotters. It is difficult to understand what the link is between thousands of teachers and the coup plotters. And it is also difficult to understand how appointing trustees to municipalities and dismissing directly elected mayors, is related to the events of 15 July.

"Turkey can be proud that its citizens massively went out on the streets to defend their democracy that night. It can be proud that all political forces joined hands in rejecting any illegal overthrow of democratic institutions.

"Turkey has the chance to come out of this situation strengthened:

- by embracing media plurality – free media played a crucial role that night in informing the people;
- by working together with all political forces on much-needed constitutional reforms;
- and by proving that the rule of law is the guiding principle in bringing the perpetrators to justice."

S&D foreign affairs co-ordinator Richard Howitt added:

"The removal of elected mayors from the Kurdish HDP party is a different sort of coup, and repeats the actions taken in the actual coup of 1980. And Europe must stand resolute on Turkey amending anti-terror legislation if we are to make progress on visa liberalisation, legislation which the UN has said denies due process and targets human rights defenders. Finally, a coup is the ultimate attack on democracy and Christian democrats must drop their opposition to opening negotiating chapters 23 & 24 on democracy. If you don´t see that now, frankly you never will."

Interview with Katy Piri, S&D rapporteur