European Parliament’s Rapporteur on Turkey Kati Piri was in the country on a fact-finding mission from 15 – 19 October, ahead of the drafting process for the EP annual Resolution on Turkey. She travelled to Ankara, Diyarbakir, Mardin and Istanbul where she met with political parties, business and civil society representatives to discuss the political and economic situation in Turkey. Regrettably, no meetings with government officials could be confirmed for her visit, despite repeated attempts. Also no permission was given to the Rapporteur’s requests to visit detainees.
Said Kati Piri:
During the last months we have seen improvements in bilateral relations between Turkey and some EU Member States. It is clear that a democratic and economically stable Turkey is in the interest of the European Union; however, in order to move further with issues like the modernisation of the customs union and visa liberalisation words are not enough and real reforms are needed.
The EP remains concerned about the rule of law and the situation of fundamental rights in Turkey, whereby some people are in jail for political reasons and no fair legal processes have been conducted. One year ago, Osman Kavala, a well known civil society leader, was imprisoned. He has still not received his indictment. I call on the Turkish authorities to release him.
The European Parliament has several times also raised the issue of our colleagues parliamentarians in jail. The reason for my visit to Basak Demirtas in Diyarbakir was to express our solidarity and to reassure her that the European Parliament will continue to follow very closely the case of Selahattin Demirtas. I also hope that the European Court of Human Rights will address this case soonest.
During my visit, I travelled to Mardin where I visited a facility dedicated to the education and longer term integration of young Syrian refugees. There is no doubt that Turkey has played an important role in the migration crisis and has shown great capacity in delivering relief to the Syrian refugees. Turkey must be commended for this.
Last year’s report clearly indicated that, under the current political situation, and if the new constitutional treaty would be adopted without taking into consideration the Venice commission’s recommendation, the EP would call for the formal suspension of accession talks. At the same time, however, a large part of the European Parliament, also wants to keep bridges with the citizens of Turkey and continue to provide support to civil society.