Procedure : 2019/2886(RSP)
Document stages in plenary
Document selected : B9-0128/2019

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>Özlem Demirel, Nikolaj Villumsen, Leila Chaibi, Stelios Kouloglou, Dimitrios Papadimoulis, Konstantinos Arvanitis, Niyazi Kizilyürek, Petros Kokkalis, Giorgos Georgiou</Depute>

<Commission>{GUE/NGL}on behalf of the GUE/NGL 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 the Charter of the United Nations,

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

 having regard to the UN Security Council resolutions on Syria, in particular No 2254(2015), and to the 2012 Geneva Communiqué, negotiated by the Syrian parties within the UN-led Geneva process,

 having regard to the Geneva Conventions on refugees,

 having regard to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child,

 having regard to the provisions of Council Common Position 2008/944/CFSP of 8 December 2008 defining common rules governing control of exports of military technology and equipment[1],

 having regard to its previous resolutions on the situation in Syria and the ISIS offensive,

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

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

A. whereas eight years after it started, the war in Syria has led to one of the worst humanitarian crises the world has faced since the Second World War; whereas the war continues to have devastating consequences for the Syrian people and has so far claimed over 400 000 lives and driven some 11.7 million to flee their homes, including over 5.6 million to seek refuge in neighbouring countries and beyond;

B. whereas the continued escalation of the Syrian conflict is the result of foreign regional and international powers, including Turkey, exploiting the situation for their own gain;

C. whereas Turkey’s military invasion in northeast Syria, which began on 9 October, undermines peace and the stability of the whole region;

D. whereas within less than a week, Turkey’s invasion resulted in many civilian casualties and caused yet more displacement; whereas according to UN sources, over 160 000 people are reported to have been displaced, including nearly 70 000 children; whereas the full humanitarian impact of the current military operation remains difficult to ascertain but, according to the scenario of full-scale military operations outlined in the UN inter-agency contingency plan, 400 000 civilians may require assistance and protection in the coming period (up from an initial estimate of 100 000 people); whereas while the need for humanitarian aid has dramatically increased, the military operations have forced many INGOs to suspend service delivery;

E. whereas several Member States are violating the right to international protection guaranteed by EU and international law; whereas the EU-Turkey agreement is based on the principle of Turkey being a ‘safe third country’ for Syrians;

F. whereas, however, Turkish authorities have been detaining and coercing Syrians into signing forms saying they want to return to Syria before forcibly returning them there; whereas Turkish officials say that around 340 000 refugees have ‘voluntarily’ returned to Syria; whereas these acts show that Turkey cannot in principle be considered a safe third country for Syrians;

G. whereas Kurdish officials have regularly mentioned the fact that they have been holding some 12 000 suspected ISIS fighters, including some 800 Europeans; whereas European citizens and governments are now concerned about the intentions and whereabouts of these fighters detained in the region, in the light of reported escapes from the camp in Ain Issa and insecurity at other facilities; whereas according to new figures, there are reportedly at least 430 European foreign fighters detained in northern Syria, together with at least 700 European children, many of whom were born there[2];

H. whereas the democratic project in Rojava, which is spearheaded by the Kurdish women’s movement and rooted in a multi-ethnic concept, represents an encouraging challenge to the political structures that bring about war, and both deserves and requires the support of the international community;

1. Condemns Turkey’s military invasion in the northeast of Syria; stresses that it endangers peace and security in the region and beyond, and makes the prospects for the political process to achieve peace in Syria far more difficult; calls on Turkey to immediately cease its military intervention and to withdraw its military forces, including its Syrian proxy forces, from the territory of Syria; condemns the fact that despite early indications from President Erdoğan about the invasion in Syria, the EU and NATO did not react or prevent Turkey from engaging in such aggression, and still recognise Turkey as an important partner;

2. Expresses deep concern about the ongoing war in Syria; underlines that the conflict cannot be solved by military means; urges all parties to the war to implement ceasefires in all areas of the country, to allow humanitarian convoys to proceed, and to facilitate safe, rapid, unhindered and sustained humanitarian assistance; urges all parties to adhere to and support the roadmap for peace, in line with the Syrian-led political process, under the auspices of the United Nations;

3. Is extremely alarmed about the situation of the 13 million Syrians in need of humanitarian assistance, one third of whom, according to the UN, live in areas that cannot be accessed from within Syria, including 2 million internally displaced persons in the so-called Idlib de-escalation zone; criticises the fact that although the Commission has approved humanitarian assistance of EUR 70 million in northeast Syria, this amount has been frozen;

4. Expresses deep concern at Turkey’s plans to bring large numbers of Syrian refugees from Turkey to the occupied northeast of Syria; reminds Turkey of its obligation to respect the principle of non-refoulement; calls on Turkey to stop coercing Syrians into returning to Syria and reiterates its opposition to the notion and use of ‘safe zones’;

5. Condemns Turkey for its intended use of demographic engineering, which is aimed at evicting the Kurdish population from its own territory; condemns the fact that Turkey is proceeding to destroy existing democratic structures in Syria and the fact that the global actors in the region have allowed it to do so;

6. Strongly criticises the ceasefire agreement reached between the US and Turkey, which proposes that the Kurdish people in Syria surrender to Turkey and codifies Turkey’s occupation of parts of Syrian territory, thereby constituting a violation of the Charter of the United Nations;

7. Expresses deep concern at the rapidly deteriorating humanitarian situation in northeast Syria; calls on all parties involved to refrain from targeting civilians and humanitarian workers, and to exercise restraint in order to protect, inter alia, civilians, water supplies, health facilities, schools and camps for displaced people, and energy and road infrastructure; calls on all parties involved in the fighting to ensure that freedom of movement and humanitarian access are guaranteed;

8. Notes with deep concern reports of war crimes and murders of civilians, such as the Kurdish politician Hevrin Khalaf; calls on all parties to investigate possible violations of international humanitarian law, especially unlawful attacks against civilians and civilian infrastructure, and to ensure that those responsible are held to account; stresses that, in the context of an inclusive and credible dialogue, the Syrian people should determine the appropriate process and mechanisms to achieve justice, reconciliation, truth and accountability for gross violations and abuses of international law, including those committed by the Turkish military forces, as well as reparations and effective remedies for victims;

9. Expresses deep concern at the liberation of ISIS fighters; strongly criticises the fact that almost all Member States have so far been reluctant to address the problem of European foreign fighters and their families; calls on the Member States, in particular France, the United Kingdom, Germany, Belgium and Sweden, where most of the foreign fighters come from, to repatriate their own nationals who are ISIS fighters and to put them on trial in their respective countries of origin; urgently calls for proactive measures to repatriate the children of ISIS fighters, most of whom are under 8 years old and should be considered and treated as victims of the conflicts;

10. Expresses concern at the militarisation of the atmosphere in Turkish society and the nationalistic rhetoric, which criminalises any voices that are critical of the war or that advocate a peaceful solution to the Kurdish question; notes with concern the growing oppression of democratic opposition in Turkey;

11. Deeply deplores the failure of the Member States to agree on an immediate effective arms embargo against Turkey; calls for the EU and the Member States to impose a full weapons embargo against Turkey; notes the arms embargo issued by some Member States, but criticises the fact that it mainly concerns future arms transfers; insists on the immediate cessation of any kind of military cooperation of the Member States with Turkey; urgently calls on the Member States to strictly implement their obligations stemming from Council Common Position 2008/944/CFSP on arms export control, in particular criterion four on regional stability vis-à-vis their arms export policy to Turkey; reiterates its stance that Common Position 2008/944/CFSP must be reviewed and updated with a view to strictly applying and implementing the criteria therein and establishing a sanctions mechanism; calls on VP/HR-designate Borrell to treat this procedure with priority;

12. Strongly supports the territorial integrity of Syria and the right of the Syrian people to determine their own future; welcomes the launch of the Syrian-owned and Syrian-led Constitutional Committee on 30 September; hopes that the establishment of this committee marks the beginning of a political process to end the Syrian conflict in line with UN Security Council resolution 2254(2015) and does so in a way that meets the legitimate aspirations of all Syrians; underlines that this process can only be successful if all quarters of Syrian society can participate, including the Kurdish people; calls for the recognition of the self-governing regional administration in northern Syria, which should become an important partner in the ongoing negotiations on the new Syrian constitution; stresses that this administration, which has proven to be a stable democratic structure, could serve as a template for discussions on a new Syria constitution, which should be decided by the Syrian people without foreign interference;

13. Calls for the EU and the Member States to exert maximum political, diplomatic and economic pressure on Turkey to force it to end its invasion in Syria and withdraw its troops, including its proxies; insists, in view of the violation of international law in Syria, on the freezing of the agreement on a customs union; calls on the Member States to re-examine their economic cooperation with Turkey and to end all programmes in areas connected with the military;

14. Calls for the EU and its Member States to provide the requisite level of flexible, emergency funding and to assist humanitarian actors in their efforts to respond effectively to the humanitarian crisis;

15. Calls on all Member States, and not only those on the frontline, to ensure that Syrian asylum-seekers have access to international protection, especially in the light of the serious human rights violations faced by Syrians in Turkey and the high risk of refoulement; recalls that both the EU and all of its Member States have a collective responsibility to refugees and immigrants who are escaping from war, chaos, economic misery, hunger and death and who are suffering because of global neoliberal economic policies; rejects any attempts to instrumentalise refugees for political purposes and pressures;

16. Calls for EU embassies and consular offices to issue humanitarian visas for asylum-seekers from Syria and calls on the Member States to step up safe and legal ways for asylum, including by means of resettlement programmes and humanitarian corridors at national and EU level; calls on the Member States, in particular, to pledge a high number of places for resettlement so as to ensure an ambitious EU contribution to the UNHCR’s Global Resettlement Needs;

17. Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the President of the European Council, the President of the Commission, the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, the presidents of the parliaments of the Member States, the Government and Parliament of Turkey, the UN Secretary-General, the Secretary-General of the Union for the Mediterranean, and the League of Arab States.

[1] OJ L 335, 13.12.2008, p. 99.

Last updated: 22 October 2019Legal notice