#Turkey: ‘The EU must not allow itself to be blackmailed’

160801Turkey2The EU must not allow itself to be blackmailed by Turkey and the Council must be prepared with a credible alternative plan if the deal with Turkey collapses. That was the message from the S&D Group following comments by President Erdogan saying that a deal must be reached on visa liberalisation by Autumn, or Turkey would no longer fulfil its side of the bargain.

S&D Vice-President Knut Fleckenstein MEP, said: “Our position is very clear – we support visa liberalisation for all countries that fulfil the relevant benchmarks. This is the case for Turkish citizens as it is for citizens of any other country. However, in reaction to the recent coup attempt Turkey is moving in the wrong direction. We will not be blackmailed into accepting visa liberalisation by an increasingly autocratic regime in Ankara.

“Although Turkey is an important partner in solving the refugee crisis, the only lasting solution will be a common European one. The Council must now prepare for the situation that Turkey pulls its support for the refugee deal and be ready with a credible alternative plan.

“The EU must continue to push Turkey to respect fundamental human rights and the rule of law. Turkish citizens must understand that if they want visa liberalisation then it is up to their government to act and meet the necessary requirements. We will not accept it any other way.”

Media silenced

Amnesty International describes Turkey’s crackdown on media and civil society as reaching disturbing levels. Arrest warrants have been issued for 89 journalists, more than 40 have already been detained and others are in hiding. A second emergency decree passed on 27 July has resulted in the shutdown of 131 media outlets. Amnesty says all restrictions must be necessary, proportionate and for legitimate purposes and that the government’s decrees fail this test.

Amnesty International’s Deputy Europe Director, Fotis Filippou, said: “Rounding up journalists and shutting down media houses is the latest assault on a media already weakened by years of government repression. The passing of this second emergency decree leaves little room for doubt that the authorities are intent on silencing criticism without regard to international law.”

Torture and inhuman conditions

Amnesty International has also received much evidence of illegal imprisonment and torture. It urges the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT) to conduct an emergency visit to Turkey to monitor conditions of detention. As a member of the Council of Europe, the Turkish government has an obligation to cooperate with the CPT. The CPT is the only independent body authorized to conduct ad hoc visits to all places of detention in Turkey at the time of their choosing.

The National Human Rights Institution of Turkey, which had access to detention facilities in the country to monitor conditions of detention, was abolished in April 2016 leaving no institution in the country with this mandate. Amnesty states that in the current environment, in which thousands of detainees are being held incommunicado, without access to lawyers or relatives, for lengthy pre-charge periods, in irregular detention centres and amid allegations of torture and other ill-treatment, it is vital that monitors are allowed access.

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Category: A Frontpage, Conflicts, EU, European Parliament, Politics, Turkey, World

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