The European Union Delegation to Egypt

Turkey: Speech on behalf of High Representative/Vice-President Josep Borrell at the EP debate

Brussels, 21/01/2021 - 14:47, UNIQUE ID: 210121_9

Speech on the human rights situation in Turkey, notably the case of Selahattin Demirtas and other prisoners of conscience, delivered by Helena Dalli, Commissioner for Equality

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Mr President, Honourable Members of [the European] Parliament,

The European Union has repeatedly conveyed its serious concerns about the continued negative developments regarding the human rights situation in Turkey, along with specific recommendations in the Commission’s annual report on Turkey to urgently and credibly address all relevant shortcomings.

Meanwhile the European Court of Human Rights issued decisions confirming our concerns and calling for immediate action. It concluded that Mr [Selahattin] Demirtas’ extended detention violated the European Convention of Human Rights, including its Article 18. Moreover, the Turkish Constitutional Court stated that his right to freedom and security was violated during his trial on remand beyond a reasonable period. What more can I say?

Also, this House knows very well the situation of human rights defender Osman Kavala, who has been held in pre-trial detention since November 2017. As well as the tragic case of Ebru Timtik.

Moreover, decisions and actions taken by the Turkish authorities against mayors from opposition parties remain deeply concerning. Hundreds of local politicians, elected office holders and thousands of members of the Peoples’ Democratic Party [HDP] have been detained on terrorism-related charges since the local elections in March 2019. Investigations were launched against others. Some even consider banning the HDP, which would clearly send a further very worrying signal.

We always acknowledged that the Turkish government has a legitimate right to fight terrorism. But it is also responsible for ensuring compliance with the rule of law, human rights and fundamental freedoms, which are enshrined in Turkey’s Constitution and its international commitments.

Concerns for the freedom of assembly in Turkey have also risen recently due to an amended regulation, which gives the Turkish police and intelligence access to military weaponry. Also, we cannot underestimate the threat that the recent law on Preventing Financing of Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction presents to Turkish civil society, which already operates in a hostile environment. The EU will continue to closely monitor the situation on the ground and to support Turkish civil society and human rights activists who face continuous pressure.

We made clear in our statements, most recently on 25 December, that as a candidate country and long-standing member of the Council of Europe, Turkey urgently needs to make concrete and sustained progress in the respect of fundamental rights, which are a cornerstone of EU-Turkey relations. Progress in the cases of Demirtas, Kavala and other human rights cases is of the essence.

Thank you.

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