From: Alice Taylor
EU Member States Musn’t Ignore Turkish Human Rights Violations to Increase Regional Stability

A delegation of press freedom organisations has called on the European Council to not put stabilisation in the Mediterranean before European values and human rights issues.

During a visit to Turkey to assess the press freedom situation, they noted a discrepancy between the EU  Delegation in Turkey, and the European Council.

The EUD noted a “serious backsliding” in terms of freedom of expression and this was complemented by “extensive work” in exposing the failure of Turkey to respect democratic principles and protect basic human rights. This contrasted with the EC report published in October which was less critical “in order to secure stability.”

“The Council of the European Union, in order to secure stability in the Eastern Mediterranean with respect to disputed off-shore drilling rights around Cyprus, has offered to launch talks on the modernization of the Customs Union and trade facilitation, people to people contacts, high-level dialogues, and continued cooperation on migration issues, without any mention of the country’s domestic human rights failings,” the report reads.

It continues that while accepting the importance of geopolitical stability in the region, “rewarding” Turkey with talks on a Customs Union could be seen as a betrayal of European values and of human rights activists in Turkey who look to Europe for leadership.

The report continues:

“Member States of the European Union must put basic human rights, including freedom of expression, back on the agenda, and make improvements in this field a pre-condition to improved relations with Turkey.”