Procedure : 2019/2886(RSP)
Document stages in plenary
Document selected : B9-0127/2019

Texts tabled :


Debates :

PV 23/10/2019 - 7
CRE 23/10/2019 - 7

Votes :

PV 24/10/2019 - 8.8
Explanations of votes

Texts adopted :


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<TitreSuite>to wind up the debate on the statement by the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy</TitreSuite>

<TitreRecueil>pursuant to Rule 132(2) of the Rules of Procedure</TitreRecueil>

<Titre>on the Turkish military operation in northeast Syria and its consequences</Titre>


<RepeatBlock-By><Depute>Michael Gahler, Željana Zovko, David McAllister, Sandra Kalniete, Esther de Lange, Andrzej Halicki, Vangelis Meimarakis, Jeroen Lenaers, Vladimír Bilčík, Manolis Kefalogiannis, Paulo Rangel, Michal Wiezik, Peter Pollák, Ivan Štefanec</Depute>

<Commission>{PPE}on behalf of the PPE Group</Commission>


See also joint motion for a resolution RC-B9-0123/2019


European Parliament resolution on the Turkish military operation in northeast Syria and its consequences


The European Parliament,

 having regard to its previous resolutions on Syria and on Turkey,

 having regard to its resolution of 12 December 2018 on findings and recommendations of the Special Committee on Terrorism[1],

 having regard to the statements by the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, and in particular the statement of 9 October 2019 on recent developments in northeast Syria,

 having regard to the Council conclusions of 14 October 2019 on northeast Syria,

 having regard to the statement of 14 October 2019 by the Spokesman for the UN Secretary-General on Syria,

 having regard to the statements of 11 October and 15 October 2019 by the Spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights on Syria,

 having regard to the European Council conclusions of 17 October 2019 on Turkey,

 having regard to the Joint Communication of 14 March 2017 to the European Parliament and the Council on ‘Elements for an EU Strategy for Syria’ (JOIN(2017)0011) and to the Council conclusions of 3 April 2017 on Syria,

 having regard to the relevant UN Security Council resolutions, in particular resolution 2254 (2015) of 18 December 2015 and the 2012 Geneva Communiqué,

 having regard to UN General Assembly resolution 71/248 of 21 December 2016 establishing the International, Impartial and Independent Mechanism to Assist in the Investigation and Prosecution of Persons Responsible for the Most Serious Crimes under International Law Committed in the Syrian Arab Republic since March 2011,

 having regard to the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne that defined the borders of Turkey,

 having regard to the Geneva Conventions of 1949 and the additional protocols thereto,

 having regard to Rule 132(2) of its Rules of Procedure,

A. whereas following the decision of President Trump to withdraw US troops from northeast Syria on 9 October 2019, Turkey, in breach of international law, launched a military operation (Operation Peace Spring) into areas controlled by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF); whereas this has resulted in civilian casualties and the displacement of tens of thousands of citizens; whereas on 17 October Turkey agreed with the United States to a five-day ceasefire in northeast Syria to allow for the withdrawal of Kurdish forces;

B. whereas the EU remains committed to the unity, sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Syrian State;

C. whereas Bashar al-Assad’s forces entered cities across northeast Syria on 14 October 2019 after the Kurdish forces agreed to a Russian-brokered deal to try to hold off a Turkish attack; whereas according to Russia’s Defence Ministry, Russian troops are patrolling the front lines between the Turkish and Syrian army positions to keep them apart;

D. whereas there are numerous European and other foreign terrorist fighters in the region that are currently unaccounted for;

E. whereas there is a risk of Daesh fighters detained in Kurdish-controlled camps escaping because there are currently not enough guards;

F. whereas Daesh prisoners, including EU citizens, have escaped from various prisons in northern Syria;

G. whereas using the forced displacement of people as a war tactic ­– including with the aim of bringing about a demographic change – is a clear breach of international humanitarian law; whereas preventing the safe, unimpeded and sustained delivery of humanitarian assistance, evacuations and medical care is a violation of international humanitarian law and of several UN Security Council resolutions (UNSCRs); whereas the UN and its partners are continuing to deliver humanitarian supplies to tens of thousands of people displaced by the violence;

H. whereas the Council has put in place a series of autonomous restrictive measures in view of the situation in Syria targeting individuals responsible for the violent repression of the civilian population in Syria as well as individuals or entities associated with them;

I. whereas the United States has imposed sanctions on Turkey in response to the country’s military offensive in northeast Syria;

J. whereas the European Parliament has recommended that the Commission and the Council of the European Union, in accordance with the EU-Turkey Negotiating Framework, formally suspend all accession negotiations with Turkey;

1. Strongly condemns the unilateral Turkish military intervention in northeast Syria, which constitutes a grave violation of international law, is undermining the stability and security of the region as a whole, is bringing further suffering to people already affected by war and is obstructing access to humanitarian assistance; welcomes the temporary ceasefire agreed between the United States and Turkey; urges Turkey to end its military intervention, which will not address the country’s underlying security concerns; considers any Turkish military operation outside Turkey’s borders that does not have prior approval from the international community to be illegal;

2. Stresses that Turkey’s security concerns in northeast Syria should be addressed through political and diplomatic means, not with military action, and in accordance with international humanitarian law;

3. Strongly condemns all atrocities and the numerous violations of human rights and international humanitarian law committed during the conflict, and in particular the crimes committed by the forces of the Assad regime; stresses that those who are perpetrating crimes in Syria, be they states or individuals, will be held to account;

4. Expresses its deep concern regarding the escape of Daesh prisoners, as many of them are EU citizens and are very likely to carry EU passports, and, given that there are already European foreign terrorist fighters in the region who are unaccounted for, there is an increased risk of foreign terrorist fighters returning to the EU;

5. Instructs the Member States, therefore, to systematically check persons enjoying the right to free movement under EU law as well as third-country nationals against the Schengen Information System and other relevant national, EU and international databases; urges Member States to be extra-vigilant and refrain to the greatest extent possible from carrying out external border checks on a targeted basis only;

6. Urges all Member States to make sure that all relevant information on foreign terrorist fighters is properly recorded in EU databases;

7. Urges the Member States to actively use PNR data and compare it against relevant databases with a view to prevention, detection, investigation and prosecution of individuals for terrorism and other serious crimes; urges Europol to fully utilise its capabilities, among others the Focal Point Travellers team, to support Member States in their efforts; expresses its concern that even more than one year after the transposition date for the EU PNR Directive, not all Member States have fully transposed it, thereby creating unnecessary security gaps;

8. Calls on the Member States and the relevant EU agencies to monitor all foreign terrorist fighters and to ensure harmonised security measures and judicial follow-up of identified returnees to the EU; calls on the Commission to assist Member States in establishing aligned classification systems in order to distinguish between high-, medium- and low-risk returnees;

9. Rejects any attempt by the Turkish authorities to establish a link between Turkey’s military action in northeast Syria and the fate of Syrian refugees on Turkish territory;

10. Deeply regrets the failure of repeated regional and international attempts to end the war in Syria; calls for renewed and intensive global cooperation to achieve a peaceful and sustainable solution to the conflict in line with UNSCR 2254 and the 2012 Geneva communiqué;

11. Calls for a strong and comprehensive EU response to this crisis; underlines that the EU should consider all available options in working with its international partners, including aerial aid drops and the establishment of no-fly zones under a UNSCR;

12. Reaffirms its support for the efforts of the Global Coalition against Daesh, to which Turkey is a party; underlines that the coalition and Syrian partner forces have made significant progress in the campaign to defeat Daesh in Syria; stresses that the SDF has played an important role in this campaign;

13. Urges all Member States to ensure full compliance with Council Decision 2013/255/CFSP of 31 May 2013 concerning restrictive measures against Syria[2] and in particular the freezing of assets of individuals listed therein and the restrictions on the admission of persons benefiting from or supporting the regime in Syria;

14. Stresses that ethnic and religious groups in Syria have the right to continue to live in or return to their historical and traditional homelands in dignity and safety; notes that the EU will not provide stabilisation or development assistance in areas where the rights of local populations are ignored or violated;

15. Underlines the need to ensure that no EU funds are used to finance the ongoing military operation or to facilitate any forced returns of Syrian refugees to the so-called ‘safe zone’;

16. Regrets the fact that the Council was not able to take a unanimous decision on an EU-wide ban on arms exports to Turkey; welcomes the decision to coordinate national embargoes on future sales of arms to Turkey; welcomes the decision by some EU Member States to immediately halt the granting of arms export licences to Turkey; calls for an EU-wide ban on arms exports to Turkey;

17. Urges the Member States to establish a common position on how to deal with the European foreign terrorist fighters and their families who remain in the region, given the fact that the foreign terrorist fighters detained in the region come from 50 different countries; requests therefore that an international court or tribunal be set up in order to investigate, judge and convict individuals for acts of terrorism and serious crimes in an orderly international fashion;

18. Calls on the Council to consider adopting appropriate and targeted economic measures against Turkey, which must not affect civil society or people who have already been badly hit by the country’s economic crisis;

19. Believes that given Turkey’s serious and persistent efforts to compromise regional stability through aggressive behaviour toward Member States, as well as its recent unilateral military action in northeast Syria targeting the Kurdish population, which has further displaced Syrian refugees, severely hindered access to humanitarian assistance, caused immense civilian suffering, undermined the stability of the whole region and weakened democracy, the rule of law and fundamental rights, it is justified to cut the allocations for Turkey under the Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance and to freeze EUR 100 million (amount to be put in reserve); underlines, however, that the freeze and cut should not target civil society or Syrian refugees, or prevent Turkish students from participating in European exchange programmes such as Erasmus+;

20. Reiterates its call for the accession negotiations with Turkey to be completely suspended; recalls that any political engagement between the EU and Turkey should be based on conditionality provisions concerning respect for democracy, the rule of law and fundamental rights;

21. Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, the Council, the Commission, the governments and parliaments of the EU Member States, the Secretary-General of the United Nations, the Government and Parliament of Turkey, the members of the International Syria Support Group and all the parties involved in the conflict.


[1] Texts adopted, P8_TA(2018)0512.

[2] OJ L 147, 1.6.2013, p. 14.

Last updated: 22 October 2019Legal notice