The members of the European Parliament (MEPs) sitting in the Committee on Foreign Affairs (AFET) heavily criticised the “late and weak” reaction of the European External Action Service (EEAS) on the protests in Turkey during an emergency debate on 6 June.
Stanislava Gaydazhieva, New Europe, 06.06.2013 The statement of the High Representative Catherine Ashton on the situation in the country, which is candidate for European Union membership since 1999, came on 2 June, two days after the protests in Turkey started. In her reaction, Ashton expresses concern about the violence that occurred in Istanbul and some other cities in Turkey, and regrets disproportionate use of force by members of the Turkish police. “The statement of the EEAS is late and weak. What we are witnessing in Turkey is a democratic awakening, closely comparable to Paris 1968,” said the liberal MEP Andrew Duff.Howitt and a couple of other of his colleagues also stated that the parliament should condemn the statement of the Turkish Prime Minister that the protesters are "hand-in-hand with terrorists”. Most of the MEPs at the AFET committee, including the Dutch MEP from the EPP group Ria Oomen-Ruiten, expressed disappointment in Turkey’s Prime Minister’s lack of response to demonstrators and called for stronger responses towards crackdown of demonstrations in Turkey. According to Marietje Schaake, Dutch MEP from the ALDE Group, the events in Turkey are a wake-up call for Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and should be a wake-up call also the EU. The Turkey advisor to High Representative Ashton stated during the AFET debate that her statements have been strong enough and distinguished from drawing a parallel between the Arab Spring and the demonstrations in Turkey. A representative of the European Commission (EC) announced that the Enlargement Commissioner Štefan Füle will be on an official visit to Istanbul on Thursday and Friday to discuss the accession process of the country. It is expected that Füle will meet with Minister for EU Affairs Egemen Bağış and representatives of civil society including the Taksim Solidarity Platform. According to Marietje Schaake, Dutch MEP from the ALDE Group, the events in Turkey are a wake-up call for Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and should be a wake-up call also the EU. During the debate in AFET, Schaake said that the Enlargement Commissioner should use the opportunity of his visit to Istanbul and his participation the government-organised conference "Rethinking Global Challenges" on challenges of EU-Turkey future to push for real reforms. And while the EU is still hesitant and indecisive on how to proceed with its strategic trade and economic partner and at the same time defend its well-established values also outside its borders, the Russian foreign ministry issued a warning for its citizens who travel to Turkey. The victims of the violent protests in the country have reached three after on Wednesday a man died in hospital from his wounds which he suffered in the Gezi Park protests.
“The European Parliament needs to show the protesters their voices are being heard here - if not in their own country,” added the labour MEP Richard Howitt and stressed: “As a European Parliament we should call on the European Union to match the United States in saying the protests represent legitimate democratic expression and respond to the protesters by calling for legal accountability for those responsible for its violent suppression”.