To ask the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the steps that have been taken by the European Union to address the ongoing situation in Turkey which has resulted in a shutdown of the media and the arrest of thousands of persons; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
- Darragh O'Brien.
* For WRITTEN answer on Tuesday, 30th May, 2017.
Ref No: 25720/17
Since the attempted coup in Turkey in July 2016, the EU and its Member States, including Ireland, have continued to monitor developments, and have repeated our serious concerns about democracy, human rights, rule of law and freedom of expression, including media freedom. The ongoing negative developments in Turkey, particularly in light of the referendum passed by a narrow majority on 16 April, were most recently discussed in detail at the informal meeting of EU Foreign Ministers (Gymnich) on 28 April, which I attended.
Foreign Ministers agreed that the long-term future of all the citizens of Turkey is at the heart of the EU-Turkey relationship. In that context, the accession process with Turkey would not be ‘suspended or ended’: if Turkey is interested in proceeding, the criteria, including on core EU values, are clear and Turkey knows what it has to do.
While the EU acknowledges that Turkey has a right to decide its own governance, it has called for investigations into alleged irregularities in the conduct of the referendum as highlighted by both the Council of Europe and the OSCE. The EU will continue to work closely with the Council of Europe in encouraging frank, open and serious discussions with Turkey.
On 25 May, the President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker and President of the European Council, Donald Tusk met President Erdogan in Brussels. They reiterated the EU’s concern at the situation in Turkey in relation to recent developments.
Ireland agrees with the EU’s approach - it aligns completely with our own views about the future of the relationship with Turkey.
I have previously expressed my concern at the number of dismissals and detentions in Turkey, and I repeat that it is critically important that the presumption of innocence and the right to a fair trial are respected. The ongoing media crackdown has resulted in the closure of over 170 media outlets, the arrest and detention of over 150 journalists, and the blocking or slowing down of social media accounts and websites eg Wikipedia. My concerns about the restrictions on freedom of media expression have not abated since the referendum.
The relationship with Turkey will remain on the EU agenda, and I will continue to raise my concerns about democracy, rule of law, human rights and freedom of expression, including media expression at every appropriate opportunity.