EP’s Piri: Without urgent reforms, no improvement in EU-Turkey relations

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Leader of the IYI Party, Meral Aksener (R) and European Parliament's Turkey Rapporteur Kati Piri (L) are seen during their meeting in Ankara, Turkey on October 16, 2018. AFP PHOTOS

Completing a fact-finding mission to Turkey, Kati Piri, the European Parliament’s Turkey rapporteur, called on the Turkish government to make real reforms in order to move further with issues such as the modernization of the customs union and visa liberalization.

Issuing a statement following her fact-finding mission to Turkey from Oct. 15-19 during which Turkish government officials refused to meet with her and denied the rapporteur permission to visit detainees, Piri said: “The EP remains concerned about the rule of law and the situation of fundamental rights in Turkey, whereby some people are in jail for political reasons and no fair legal processes have been conducted.”

Emphasizing the improvements in bilateral relations between Turkey and some EU member states in recent month, Piri said, “A democratic and economically stable Turkey is in the interest of the European Union; however, in order to move further with issues like the modernization of the customs union and visa liberalization, words are not enough and real reforms are needed.”

Calling on Turkish authorities to release Osman Kavala, a well-known civil society leader who has been in prison for one year without an indictment, Piri said: “The European Parliament has several times also raised the issue of our colleagues parliamentarians in jail. The reason for my visit to Başak Demirtas in Diyarbakır was to express our solidarity and to reassure her that the European Parliament will continue to follow very closely the case of Selahattin Demirtas. I also hope the European Court of Human Rights will address this case soonest.”

Ahead of the drafting process for the EP annual resolution on Turkey, Piri travelled to Ankara, Diyarbakir, Mardin and Istanbul where she met with political parties and business and civil society representatives to discuss the political and economic situation in Turkey.

Underlining that during a stop in Mardin she visited a facility dedicated to the education and longer-term integration of young Syrian refugees, Piri praised Turkey’s efforts on refugees.

“There is no doubt that Turkey has played an important role in the migration crisis and has shown great capacity in delivering relief to the Syrian refugees. Turkey must be commended for this.”

Piri recalled last year’s report which clearly indicated that, under the current political situation, if the new amendments to the Turkish constitution were to be adopted without taking into consideration the Venice Commission’s recommendations, the EP would call for the formal suspension of accession talks.

“At the same time, however, a large part of the European Parliament also wants to keep bridges with the citizens of Turkey and continue to provide support to civil society,” she added.

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