EU-Turkey cooperation on refugee crisis must be based on respect for fundamental rights

Marietje
Ahead of meeting of the EU heads of state or government with Turkey, taking place on Sunday in Brussels, the ALDE Group in the European Parliament calls on Donald Tusk, the President of the European Council, to address the issue of human rights during the summit. Two journalists from an opposition Turkish newspaper have been arrested this week being accused by an Istanbul court of spying and divulging state secrets, following reports that Turkey's intelligence agency sent weapons to Islamist rebel groups in Syria. BEALDE Group leader, Guy Verhofstadt, says cooperation with Turkey on dealing with the refugee crisis should not compromise EU human rights standards: "I urge Donald Tusk and EU leaders to be very clear in their meeting with Prime Minister Davutoglu,on the urgent need for Turkey to do more to respect the rule of law and fundamental freedoms in Turkey. These are the two key areas which must not be compromised in any accession negotiations. The EU's credibility is at stake here. The recent arrests of journalists,in addition to the two dozen others already in jail is unacceptable and extremely worrying. A resilient society needs free journalism - in particular in these dangerous times." schaake-pasfotoALDE MEP, Marietje Schaake (D66, The Netherlands) "The recent arrest of 2 journalists and the charges against them is another very worrying development. We have seen a systematic regress of the rule of law and fundamental freedoms in Turkey. A free press is an essential element of an open society, it must be strengthened particularly when terrorism is a threat. It is unacceptable that the European Commission delayed the annual report with its criticism. It is now key that any further talks about how to cooperate on sheltering refugees or the fight against Daesh are not allowed to overshadow the need for a more focussed addressing of human rights in Turkey. Press freedom should be officially on the agenda of the EU-Turkey top. It must be crystal clear that cooperation requires respect for basic rights. Without that, talks about accelerating accession will not lead to results." The Vice-President of the European Parliament, ALDE MEP Alexander Graf Lambsdorff (FDP, Germany), who is also EP rapporteur on Turkey, "It looks like a mockery, when two such respected journalists are arrested right before the EU-Turkey summit on Sunday. The situation is absurd: the new government has just announced that it intends to focus on democratization and on the same day it issues this arrest warrant. Independent journalism in Turkey has no chance. This needs to be addressed at the EU-Turkey summit, as it is vital for democracy. A NATO ally and EU candidate country has to measure up to Western values standards and that includes fundamental rights."
See also on Turkey: 10-11 MEP: Undermining of Turkish rule of law and freedom of expression are big concern for Europe 29-10 Media (Euronews: The Network) – Are refugees or civil rights the priority in Turkey? 26-10 Media (France24, Talking Europe) – The EU and Turkey: Who needs whom more? 20-10 Blog (Project Syndicate) – Talking Tough to Turkey 23-10 Letter to President Juncker and High Representative Mogherini concerning the EU-Turkey Joint Action Plan 12-10 Written Questions on halting the broadcast of tv channels in Turkey 01-09 Written Questions on press freedom in Turkey 08-06 MEP: Turkish election results offer opportunity to improve EU-Turkey relations 21-05 MEP: Turkey must reverse authoritarian trend to remain a key EU partner 20-05 Plenary debate on the 2014 Progress Report on Turkey 22-04 MEPs: We must defend all those standing on the front-line for free speech in Turkey 07-04 Media (CNN) – Schaake: Turkey internet blockade is bad for business 06-04 Media (Bloomberg) – Facebook, Twitter to Appeal as Turkey Blocks Social Media 31-03 MEP responds to acquittal 236 suspects in Balyoz/Sledgehammer case