No EU visa-free travel for Turks, if rule of law is undermined, say MEPs

EU Foreign Affairs Committee MEPs, in a debate with the co-chair of pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), Selahattin Demirtaş, on Tuesday 14th June, said that “if Turkey goes on undermining rule of law principles and stripping Members of the Turkish Parliament of their immunities, then it should not expect to be granted an EU visa-free regime.”


As was recently reported in KCW Today, Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) has been accused by the EU of deliberately stripping the judicial immunity of members of parliament in an attempt to force Kurdish deputies out of parliament.

EU MEPs also voiced solidarity with Mr Demirtaş’ efforts to revive the Kurdish peace process talks.

As the leader of one of Turkey’s major opposition parties, Mr Demirtaş said that Turkey is “living through extraordinary times, as its constitution is suspended, political and media rights are violated, and Turkish MPs are stripped of their immunities.” He added that “Erdoğan strategy” has been attempting to “ignite national feelings and make President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan a single man in power.”

European MEPs expressed their concern that that potentially 138 Turkish opposition deputies may be put behind bars as soon as next week, with the Turkish public prosecutor filing terrorist propaganda charges already.

Several MEPs explained that having so many opposition deputies in prison, the rule of law in Turkey would be significantly undermined. Turkey should, therefore, not expect to get an EU visa-free regime any time soon, the MEPs said unequivocally.

When asked by several MEPs about the future of a EU-Turkey migration deal, the HDP co-chair said that refugees “are not a big burden for us”, claiming that “they can only return to their homeland if there is stability in Syria.” He also noted that President Erdoğan “should not be taking decisions alone on the future of EU-Turkey relations or the annulment of EU-Turkey deals.”


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