Maja Kocijancic, an EU spokesperson, has slammed the March 29 arrest and deportation of six Turkish nationals from Kosovo due to their links to the Gülen movement, saying the incident raises questions about respect for the due process of law.
In a development that caused outrage around the world, the Kosovo police arrested five educators working at schools linked to the faith-based Gülen movement in Kosovo as well as a doctor last Thursday, after which Turkey’s National Intelligence Organization (MİT) rendered them to Turkey.
“The arrest and subsequent deportation of six Turkish nationals legally residing in Kosovo raise questions about the respect of the due process of law,” said Kocijancic, adding that the rule of law is a fundamental principle of the European Union.
Referring to Kosovo’s aspirations to become an EU member, the EU spokesperson said in line with its determination to build a free and democratic future, and also as set out in the Stabilization and Association Agreement with the European Union, all actions of local Kosovo institutions are bound by full respect for the rule of law and the promotion of universal respect for and observance of human rights and fundamental freedoms.
“Arbitrary procedures concerning arrest, detention or exile go against these principles,” she added.
The incident sent shockwaves around the world and in Kosovo, where the prime minister, Ramush Haradinaj, who said he was unaware of the removal of the Turkish nationals to Turkey, fired the country’s interior minister and head of the intelligence service for failing to inform him about the arrest of the Turkish nationals.
As for Turkey, Kocijancic said while the EU understands the need to bring the perpetrators of the coup attempt of July 15, 2016 to justice, any alleged wrongdoing or crime should be subject to due process and well established international norms when seeking extradition.
“The right of every individual to fair trial needs to be fully respected. As a European Union candidate country and a member of the Council of Europe, Turkey has subscribed to these principles,” she said.
Turkey began negotiations for full membership in the EU in 2005. Progress was slow, and out of the 35 chapters necessary to complete the accession process only 16 had been opened and one had been closed by May 2016. Turkish accession talks came to a halt as a result of the post-coup purges in Turkey.
The government accuses the Gülen movement of masterminding the coup attempt, although the movement strongly denies any involvement.