Letter to President of the European Council

Dear Mr. President,
The EU Turkey Civic Commission (EUTCC) sent a letter to you in December 2020 to draw attention to the serious irregularities in Turkey regarding democratic principles, the rule of law and international law. The European institutions, including you as President of the European Council, had repeatedly expressed concerns about this.
A few weeks ago, hope raised up in Europe when Erdogan announced a human rights action plan. However, the past few days have shown that Turkey has turned its back on the mentioned principles: Please allow us to mention some examples of these irregularities: Despite allegations that Kurdish political leader Abdullah Ocalan has died in Imrali prison, his lawyers and family are still denied visits even if Mr. Ocalan’s solitary confinement has always been criticized by the CPT. Further, the HDP MP Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu has recently been stripped of his mandate and a banning proceeding has been initiated against the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), the third largest party in the Turkish Parliament, and Turkey has withdrawn from the İstanbul Convention. 
The rulings of the European Court of Human Rights, e.g., the cases of the Human Rights defender, Mr. Osman Kavala and HDP co-president Mr. Selahattin Demirtaş in 2019, are still awaiting implementation, which is contrary to the statutes of the Council of Europe. 
The expansive foreign policy, contrary to international law, also continues. Turkey repeatedly attacks northern Syria and northern Iraq without any interferences from the international community or NATO. 
The EUTCC therefore consider it essential that effective measures are taken against Turkey. Democracy, the rule of law and international law are non-negotiable. Effective measures do not mean an end to dialogue, but it underlines the determination to defend the mentioned principles:A halt to all arm exports, a rethinking of the refugee agreement and the suspension of the Customs Union Agreement between Turkey and the European Union are important first steps. 
An important prerequisite for democracy in Turkey and peace in the Middle East – as always sought by Europe – is a political solution to the Kurdish question. A European Union initiative in this regard is therefore not only advisable, but necessary.
22 March 2021
Yours sincerely 
Prof. Dr. Kariane Westrheim On behalf of the EUTCC board

EU Turkey Civic Commission
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