S&D MEP and the European Parliament rapporteur on Turkey, Kati Piri, was in the country on a fact-finding mission on 15-19 October preparing for the annual resolution on Turkey. She travelled to Ankara, Diyarbakir, Mardin and Istanbul where she met with political parties, business and civil society representatives to discuss the situation in Turkey. Regrettably, no meetings with government officials could be confirmed for her visit, despite repeated attempts. Also no permission was given to the requests to visit detainees.

“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 EU; however, in order to move further with issues like the modernisation of the customs union and visa liberalisation, words are not enough and real reforms are needed.

“The European Parliament 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 trials have been conducted. 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,” MEP said after her visit.

“Parliament has several times also raised the issue of our colleague parliamentarians in jail. The reason for my visit to Basak Demirtas in Diyarbakir 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 that the ECtHR will address this case soonest. In Mardin I visited a facility dedicated to the education and long-term integration of young Syrian 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,” she added.

“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, Parliament 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,” MEP Kati Piri concluded.