Suspension of Turkey’s EU membership negotiations upheld pending general vote

The European Parliament Committee on Foreign Affairs upheld a motion on condition of the resolution of the current human rights situation in Turkey, on Wednesday.

The motion to suspend the membership negotiations of the EU candidate country started in 2005 and was recently accompanied by findings in the draft report crafted by EU Rapporteur, Kati Piri.  Committee members voted 47 to 7 in favour with 10 members abstaining.

The general vote by the European Parliament will be held next month, with the motion requiring a qualified majority vote to pass the parliamentary assembly and, as an advisory resolution, will not bind the executive bodies of the EU.

Ongoing deterioration in fundamental rights and freedoms

While appreciating the termination of the state of emergency in 2018, Kati Piri’s report on Turkey points to the fact that regulations undertaken by the emergency decrees are still in force, while underlining “the ongoing deterioration in fundamental rights and freedoms, the rule of law and the lack of judicial independence in Turkey.”

Piri’s report also mentions “the use of arbitrary detention and judicial and administrative harassment to persecute tens of thousands of people,” urging the Turkish authorities to “immediately and unconditionally release all those who have been detained only for carrying out their legitimate work, exercising freedom of expression and association and are being held without compelling evidence of criminal activity.”

Judicial procedure “a joke”

The report also underlines the cases of opposition leader Selahattin Demirtas and businessman Osman Kavala, a human rights activist jailed on coup charges for his role in Gezi protests that took place in 2013. The indictment of Kavala was made public on Wednesday and slammed by Piri, who likened the judicial procedure to “a joke.”

Piri was denounced by Turkey following the failed coup of 2016, with Turkish authorities claiming that “the rapporteur lost her impartial stance regarding the country,” for her remarks reprimanding the post-coup measures taken by Ankara.

The harsh criticism directed toward the rapporteur by the pro-government media climaxed during her last visit to Turkey in September 2018, where she met opposition leaders Kemal Kilicdaroglu, Meral Aksener, and Basak Demirtas, the spouse of Selahattin Demirtas, the jailed former head of pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP).

Piri told the reporters in a press conference in October 2018 that Turkish media “portrayed her as the devil.”

One of the report’s crucial points is the mention of torture allegations made by rights groups and UN officers, which calls on Turkey to “carry out a thorough investigation into those allegations,” reiterating its call “to make public the report of the Council of Europe’s Committee for the Prevention of Torture.”

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