Brussels, November 11, 2014
The bi-annual EU-Turkey Joint Parliamentary Committee, the first to take place following the European Parliament elections, was held on November 11 at the EP.
Johannes Hahn, Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations, addressed the newly composed assembly and congratulated the just elected co-chairs of both delegation.
He said the objective from the European perspective of Turkey didn’t change despite the fact that there was a long way to go, adding that the next 5 years should be used for achieving concrete results that benefit both Turkey and the European Union.
He welcomed a number of positive steps Turkey took over the past year, notably the adoption of laws implementing the December 2013 democratisation package, and an Action Plan for the Prevention of Violations of the European Convention on Human Rights. Moreover, the Turkish Constitutional Court took a number of important decisions strengthening the protection of fundamental rights. The Report also recognises that Turkey has taken bold steps aiming to support a peaceful settlement of the Kurdish issue.
At the same time, he underlined some areas of concern.
He said he was regretting the restrictive approach adopted with regard to freedom of expression, including the blanket bans on social media, and the right to assembly, noting the tendency to pass laws and decisions, including on fundamental issues for the Turkish democracy, in haste and without sufficient consultations of stakeholders.
He said all this underlines the need to engage in an effective dialogue, both within the country and with the EU, to ensure that further reforms in the area of the rule of law and fundamental freedoms follow European standards.
“In the light of these developments, the Commission renews its call to the Council to define the opening benchmarks for chapter 23: Judiciary and fundamental rights, and chapter 24: Justice, freedom and security. The Commission holds that it is in the interest of both Turkey and the EU that negotiations under these two chapters open as soon as possible”.
To encourage and support reforms on the rule of law and fundamental rights, he said the European Union must be consistent and use the most effective and constructive tool at our disposal to improve things on the ground, namely the opening benchmarks for these two chapters, insisting that it would provide Turkey with a roadmap for reforms, agreed by all 28 Member States, and enhanced the cooperation on the rule of law and fundamental rights issues remain the backbone of future relations.
About the necessity of a cooperation on the issue of Syrian and Iraqi refugees, he estimated the needs to be stepped up:
“It is also important that we step up cooperation on the issue of Syrian and Iraqi refugees. We praise Turkey for its enormous efforts accomplished so far, with over 1.5 million Syrian refugees on its territory. The Commission is working on developing an additional package of financial support”.
He finished his speech by hoping that Turkey’s renewed commitment to pursue further reforms aimed at bringing the country closer to the European Union will continue.
The HDP representant Nazmi Gür was, among the participants of the delegation, the only politician to mention the humanitarian situation and the war on the Turkish-Syrian border.
Reacting to the use of the humanitarian crisis by the turkish officials, he said:
” I need to redirect my speech following what I have just heard during this assembly. I would like specifically address the misuse of the current humanitarian crisis by the Turkish state, and give my opinion on the intervention of M. Gündes Bakir and his misinterpretation of the situation.
If today, the gangs of DAESH have become an important force in the region, it is partly because of the fake policy of the Turkish state. Relations between DAESH and the turkish state are not a secret anymore, we are not the only part denouncing this, European circles have also been denouncing those relations, even though Turkey denies such implications with Islamist groups.
First of all, I would like to precise that the YPG forces (People’s Protection Units) are not a terrorist organisation as says the AKP deputy, ().
The fact that the Kurdish city of Kobanê has not fallen as expected by the turkish side resulted in a great disappointment and anger within the government, which suddenly responded by saying, as the resistance of the YPG prevented this happening: ” The YPG is a terrorist organisation!”
Turkey should abandon this marketing policy behind the refugees back, using the number of refugees the country had received or the way they contributed helping them, this is not the reality, I will give some figures:
185 000 refugees of Kobanê entered Turkey ant it is true, around one thousand people are treated in the Turkish hospitals. But, expect 6500 persons, none of them kurdish from the Kobanê Canton, the government has no given help to any other refugees.
The 180 000 thousands left are maintained by the kurdish municipalities, our party the HDP and associations in the region. Most of them have been placed in relatives houses and among villagers. As an example, the government has created one refugee’s camp in the border city of Suruç, while or municipalities have created 5 in the same area. Do you display these camps we help as the fruit of your own labor, it does not annoy us.
The struggled led in Kobanê thanks to the exemplary Kurdish heroes of the YPG, with the help of the KRG and some group of the the FSA, is not only a struggle for the liberation of the people of Kobanê, but a struggle for freedom, for women’s rights, and universal human values. It is a struggle on behalf of all humanity, of all the peoples of the Near and Middle East, and of Turkey. The fall of Kobanê will also have a disastrous effect on the peace process of Turkey.
Sorry again, I wanted to avoid this controversy, but thanks to our friends from the AKP, I found myself obliged to give arguments to clarify the situation, given what they say does not correspond to reality”.
Giles Portman meanwhile, Adviser on Turkey for European Union External Action Service, stressed the need of a better coordination for delivering humanitarian aid, the importance of Turkey to open its borders as in the current of Kobanê, and the need of more collaboration from Turkey concerning the help to the refugees: ” We have a joint office with the Turkish government in Gazi Antep, we have proposed an Action plan to the Turkish government, we are expecting an answer to it”.
He also underlined the importance of a solution to the Kurdish problem in the region.
The first meeting of the delegation to the the EU-Turkey Joint Parliamentary Committee since the election of the European Parliament took place this November 11 at the EP.
Commissioner Johannes Hahn met Turkish Minister for EU Affairs Volkan Bozkir for the first time in his capacity of Commissioner for Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations. The meeting followed the attendance of the Commissioner and the Minister at. The meeting took place in a friendly and constructive atmosphere and allowed to set the tone of a positive cooperation to pursue Turkey’s EU accession path and to face common challenges.
Mr Bozkir reaffirmed Turkey’s strong determination to take up reforms on the EU path while Commissioner Hahn welcomed Turkey’s renewed commitment towards the EU accession process. Commissioner Hahn assured Mr Bozkir of his commitment to moving forward EU-Turkey relations and keeping the accession negotiations on track, stressing however that further reforms were needed to provide solid ground for making such progress.