EP’s Panzeri: EU should use all financial, commercial instruments to push Turkey to end HR violations

Pier Antonio Panzeri. Photo: Vocal Europe

Pier Antonio Panzeri, Chair of the European Parliament’s Subcommittee on Human Rights (DROI), has stated that European Union (EU) should use all the financial and commercial instruments it possess in order to put pressure on Turkey to end human right violations in the country.

In an interview with Vocal Europe on Monday, Panzeri has stated that “For the moment, it is very hard to consider Turkey joining the EU as a top priority for the Union itself,” and added “A lot of water has flowed under the bridge since this issue was an important item on the EU agenda. I need to underline that the EU made also some mistakes along this process. For instance, the Union has never univocally backed such an enlargement journey, being itself divided between parties advocating and others opposing it.”

Stating that “Nowadays, we are experiencing a new situation that has been exacerbated following the failed coup attempt in July last year,” Panzeri has said that “As a matter of fact, President Erdoğan’s new policies and behaviors are deeply jeopardizing every single possibility for his country joining the Union. This is to emphasize that whilst a European enlargement for Turkey does not seem likely at the present time, a more realistic form of relation is constituted by a closer cooperation between Ankara and the EU. In that respect, the pre-condition for strengthening ties stipulates, without doubt, the improvement of Turkey’s political situation and human rights record. No matter what is said, Turkey has not made any satisfying progress on five out of the seventy-two conditions that the EU requested.”

As an answer to question on reports over torture and ill-treatment made by Turkish officials to those who are under detention or in jail, Panzeri has stated that “Here at the European Parliament we have met the representatives of a number of Turkish NGOs. These meetings were aimed at understanding the current situation and evaluating the possible contributions the Union can make in order to prevent the detrimental policies on human rights that are in force today in the country. In addition, those organizations have repeatedly underlined the harsh conditions, caused by the new draconian laws, which they have to face just because they are operating in Turkey.”

On Turkish government’s exploitation of terrorism definition, anti-terror law and through these human rights violations of Kurdish people in Turkey, Panzeri has made an assessment and said that “The EU is trying everything possible within its boundaries to increase its leverage over Turkey because of the country’s anti-terrorism law. Indeed, this legislation is used as an anti-dissent measure; because of this, citizens without any judicial order are detained; trials are endless; preventive detention terms become considerably longer without reason and we have evidences of arbitrary detentions.”

“We consider this law to be tremendously incompatible with Turkeys’ obligations toward the European Convention on Human Rights. Turkey’s full adherence to this convention was one of the preconditions set by the EU for the enlargement. In fact, this is among those five conditions Turkey has not yet reported on. In my opinion, we should use all the financial and commercial instruments the EU possess in order to put pressure on Turkey over this issue,” added Panzeri.

Over a question Panzeri has also stated that he has been very suspicious about the establishment of State of Emergency Procedures Investigation Commission and added that “My skepticism is about the commission’s inability to operate adequately and to comply with the objectives, upon which the commission itself was established. As of today, I believe sending a strong signal is essential to make this commission working concretely and as transparently as possible.”

Replying a question on reports over more than 17 000 women, 668 infants and children under 6 year of age in Turkish prisons, Panzeri has stated that “The European Parliament’s Subcommittee on Human Rights (DROI) has constantly addressed the public over the human rights situation in Turkey. This has been done through dedicated hearings and by the release of reports containing strong statements over this critical issue. In addition to that, the Parliament constantly monitors the situation by preparing ad-hoc reports over Turkey’s deteriorating human rights record. We believe that this is the most effective form of method for bringing human rights’ violations to the attention of both the European institutions and as well as the public opinion.”

Vocal Europe has also asked to Panzeri on the fact that Turkish government revoked over 150 thousand passports and asked Interpol to put more than 60 thousand names of Turkish nationals on Interpol’s wanted list since the attempted coup last year. He has assessed any possibility for an EP resolution calling member states to undo such practices by Interpol in terms of detaining and extraditing Turkish nationals who are mostly known to be followers of Gülen movement.

Panzeri has stated over the issue that “I believe that the European Parliament must have a clear and straight position over this sensitive matter. My impression is that many of those warrants are issued because of the political views of these people that have been expressed today and in the past. Therefore, I am in the opinion that it would be a major mistake if the EU member states extradite these individuals. We will try to make the parliament express a clear stance on this issue over the next few weeks.”

Turkey survived a controversial military coup attempt on July 15, 2016 that killed 249 people. Immediately after the putsch the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) government along with Turkey’s autocratic President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan pinned the blame on the Gülen movement.

Fethullah Gülen, who inspired the movement, strongly denied having any role in the failed coup and called for an international investigation into it, but President Erdoğan — calling the coup attempt “a gift from God” — and the government initiated a widespread purge aimed at cleansing sympathizers of the movement from within state institutions, dehumanizing its popular figures and putting them in custody.

Turkey’s Justice Ministry announced on July 13 that 50,510 people have been arrested and 169,013 have been the subject of legal proceedings on coup charges since the failed coup.

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