Victoria Media – Further Edition

Turkey: handling of aftermath of coup attempt is a crucial test, say MEPs

The respect of human rights and the rule of law in Turkey in the aftermath of the failed coup attempt will be a crucial test for the state of the country’s democracy, said Foreign Affairs Committee MEPs on Tuesday. They assessed the results of last week’s fact-finding mission to Turkey by the committee chair and rapporteur and stressed the need for constant monitoring.

“Turkey has gone through a shock. There are indications that since 2013, the Gülen movement put into motion more than was realised. This is a group which over the decades has developed the style of a secret alliance,” said Foreign Affairs committee chair Elmar Brok (EPP, DE).

He confirmed that during the visit, the EP delegation condemned the coup attempt, but said that “even before the coup d’état in Turkey, developments as regards the freedom of opinion were not acceptable and took Turkey farther away from EU”.

Turkey rapporteur Kati Piri (S&D, NL) emphasised that the traumatic effect of the coup attempt on Turkish society should not be underestimated. She referred to the shelling of the Turkish parliament, the arrest of journalists and the killing of more than 200 civilians. But the aftermath of the coup attempt involved “the arrest of thousands of people […] who definitely were not involved in the coup”, she added. “The rule of law, including access to lawyers, the best criminal lawyer and fair trials, must be respected and this will be a crucial test for democracy in Turkey,” said Ms Piri.

Many MEPs agreed that the EU should monitor the rule of law and human rights situation in Turkey more closely, some asking for clearer evidence that the Gülen movement was behind the coup.

Even though some MEPs felt that “this” Turkey could not become a member of the EU, others suggested opening chapter 23 and 24 – dealing with justice, freedom and security – in order to facilitate dialogue with Turkey on democracy.

An important number of MEPs said that although they supported the EU-Turkey migration deal, the European Parliament could only give green light to the visa liberalisation, which is part of the deal, once all of the 72 benchmarks have been met.