How to deal with Turkey?


In plenary, Ska spoke about the consequences on Turkey's continuing human rights violations and violations of rule of law.

"Turkish President Erdoğan continues his relentless course against democracy and human rights, and he has put thousands of people into jail – journalists, teachers, politicians, and also, more and more EU citizens – and this is unacceptable. There can be no doubt that Erdoğan’s course requires a very strong and clear European response.

I think we all agree on that, but the question is: what response? Because I think we need to find a response that is not just there for us to feel good but a response that actually achieves what we want to get to, and for that we need to indeed remember that Erdoğan is not Turkey and Turkey is not Erdoğan.

50% of people in Turkey voted against Erdoğan’s referendum, and people in Turkey are currently, every day, risking their freedom and their employment by speaking up, by defending their rights, by defending the rights of others. We must not forget those people and we must not leave them alone.

We must do everything, rather, that we can to support them, and by everything I mean both on the institutional level but also with everything that we as MEPs and we as Groups can do.

We have also one instrument in our hands that I believe will be very powerful in actually targeting Erdoğan without harming the opposition, and that is indeed the customs Union.

I think it would be a scandal if we were to deepen our business ties with Turkey while journalists and labour unionists are in jail.

And the customs union is actually not an instrument for political dialogue; it is an instrument for exchanging goods, for exchanging services. And that is also why Erdoğan wants it. He has never threatened to stop that one, and I think that is why we also need to especially use it. We need to say, no, we won’t do the modernisation and enlargement of the customs union unless there is progress on human rights.

No business interests can really be more important than the interest of people to live in freedom and in the enjoyment of their rights, and the same is true – has to be true – for the export of weapons. There are still weapons exports happening today from European Union Member States to Turkey. But Turkey is a country in conflict: not a single weapon should be sent there, and certainly also not whole weapons factories.

How to deal with Turkey?

It is certainly not a good topic for an election campaign, nor for a competition about who hits the hardest. This is about the future of more than 70 million people and about the future of us.

There will be a time after Erdoğan. Let’s not forget that."