EP Rapporteur Piri warns: Without urgent reforms no improvement in EU-Turkey ties

Kati Piri, the European Parliament’s (EP) rapporteur on Turkey, said on Friday that there will be no improvement in EU-Turkey relations without urgent democratic reforms in the country.

Piri was in Turkey on a fact-finding mission Oct.15-19 ahead of the drafting process for the EP annual resolution on Turkey. She traveled to Ankara, Diyarbakır, Mardin and İstanbul where she met with political parties, business, and civil society representatives to discuss the political and economic situation in Turkey.

No meetings with Turkish government officials could be confirmed for her visit, despite her repeated attempts. Also, no permission was given to Piri’s requests to visit detainees.

Releasing a statement on her personal blog, Piri stated: “During the last months we have seen improvements in bilateral relations between Turkey and some EU Member States. It is clear that 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.

“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,” said Piri and added that “One year ago, Osman Kavala, a well known civil society leader, was imprisoned. He has still not received his indictment. I call on the Turkish authorities to release him.

“The European Parliament has several times also raised the issue of our colleague parliamentarians in jail. The reason for my visit to Başak Demirtaş 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 Demirtaş. I also hope that the European Court of Human Rights will address this case soonest.

“During my visit, I traveled to Mardin where I visited a facility dedicated to the education and longer-term integration of young Syrian refugees,” stated Piri and said that “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.

“Last year’s report clearly indicated that, under the current political situation, and if the new constitutional treaty would be adopted without taking into consideration the Venice commission’s recommendation, the EP would call for the formal suspension of accession talks,” reminded Piri and added that “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.”

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