Motion for a resolution - B7-0310/2013Motion for a resolution

MOTION FOR A RESOLUTION on the situation in Turkey

11.6.2013 - (2013/2664(RSP))

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
pursuant to Rule 110(2) of the Rules of Procedure

Alexander Graf Lambsdorff, Guy Verhofstadt, Louis Michel, Graham Watson, Marietje Schaake, Johannes Cornelis van Baalen, Sarah Ludford, Frédérique Ries, Annemie Neyts-Uyttebroeck, Edward McMillan-Scott, Hannu Takkula, Kristiina Ojuland on behalf of the ALDE Group

See also joint motion for a resolution RC-B7-0305/2013

Procedure : 2013/2664(RSP)
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European Parliament resolution on the situation in Turkey


The European Parliament,

–   having regard to its previous resolutions, in particular that of 18 April 2013, on Turkey’s 2012 progress report[1],

–   having regard to the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union,

–   having regard to the Negotiating Framework for Turkey of 3 October 2005,

–   having regard to Council Decision 2008/157/EC of 18 February 2008 on the principles, priorities and conditions contained in the Accession Partnership with the Republic of Turkey[2] (‘the Accession Partnership’), as well as to the previous Council decisions on the Accession Partnership of 2001, 2003 and 2006,

–   having regard to Rule 110(2) of its Rules of Procedure,

A. whereas in the early hours of Friday 31 May 2013 the Turkish police engaged in an effort to dispel a group of demonstrators, who had been protesting for weeks against the planned felling of trees for a new construction project in Istanbul’s Gezi Park in the Taksim Square area;

B.  whereas the demonstrations have gained support among different layers of Turkish society; whereas this popular protest is the expression of a spontaneous movement within civil society in favour of modern European liberal democracy;

C. whereas men and women participated in equal measure in the demonstrations, but whereas feminists gave specific expression to their concerns over women’s rights and equal treatment;

D. whereas the heavy-handed police intervention led to clashes with the protestors that quickly spread to other cities in Turkey, and whereas these clashes led to casualties, with thousands of people wounded, and to mass arrests; whereas the harsh words of the Turkish government, and of Prime Minister Erdogan in particular, who labelled the demonstrators as looters and terrorists, seem to have been counterproductive and acted as further fuel for the protests;

E.  whereas Article 34 of the Turkish Constitution protects the right to organise peaceful and unarmed meetings and demonstrations without permission;

F.  whereas the protesters are increasingly voicing concerns over authoritarian governance and the lack of representation of minority voices, of the rule of law, of good governance and of fair trial and due process in Turkey;

G. whereas a series of recent decisions and legislative acts on issues such as restrictions on the selling of alcohol and educational reforms have led to concern among secular Turks about restrictions being placed on their freedoms;

H. whereas the mainstream Turkish media were slow to report adequately on the demonstrations, conforming instead to a pattern of restrictions on media freedom and (self) censorship that has been in place since before the demonstrations;

I.   whereas the EEAS failed to give a timely and adequate response;

1.  Strongly condemns the disproportionate and excessive use of force by the Turkish police in its response to the peaceful and legitimate protests in Istanbul’s Gezi Park, and calls on the Turkish authorities to thoroughly investigate the police violence and bring those responsible to justice; warns the Turkish government against taking harsh measures against the protesters, and urges the Prime Minister to take a unifying and conciliatory position so as to avoid any further escalation;

2.  Urges the Turkish authorities to guarantee and respect the rights of all citizens to freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and peaceful protest; calls for the immediate release of all peaceful protestors taken into custody;

3.  Expresses its utter disappointment at the exceedingly harsh reactions of the Turkish government and of Prime Minister Erdogan, which have only contributed to further polarising Turkish society; underlines the importance of dialogue between the Turkish government and peaceful protestors;

4.  Reminds Turkey that in an inclusive, pluralistic democracy all citizens should feel represented and that the majority has a responsibility to include opposition and civil society in the decision-making process; underlines that while the government and the ruling parliamentary majority have a particular responsibility for improving the rule of law in Turkey, opposition parties, civil society organisations and the media should also play their part in creating a democratic political culture that embodies respect for differing views and opinions;

5.  Is concerned about the ongoing confrontation between the political parties, and the lack of readiness on the part of government and opposition to work towards consensus on key reforms; urges all political actors, the government and the opposition to work together to enhance political plurality in state institutions and to promote the modernisation and democratisation of the state and society;

6.  Points to the crucial role that a system of checks and balances has to play in the governance of a modern democratic state, which must be based on the principle of separation of powers, and on a balance being maintained between the executive, legislative and judicial functions, on respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms – in particular freedom of expression and freedom of the press, also on the internet – and on a participatory political culture that truly reflects the plurality of a democratic society;

7.  Recalls that freedom of expression and media pluralism are at the heart of European values and that a truly democratic, free and pluralistic society requires true freedom of expression; recalls that freedom of expression is applicable not only to information or ideas that are favourably received or regarded as inoffensive, but also, in accordance with the European Convention on Human Rights, to those that offend, shock or disturb the state or any section of the population;

8.  Is concerned about the deterioration of the freedom of the press, about certain acts of censorship and about the growing self-censorship that have taken hold within the Turkish media, including on the internet; calls on the Turkish government to uphold the principles of press freedom; stresses that an independent press is crucial for a democratic society, and points, in this context, to the essential role of the judiciary in protecting and enhancing press freedom, thereby guaranteeing a public space for free and inclusive debate;

9.  Reiterates its concern at the fact that most media are owned by, and concentrated in, large conglomerates with a wide range of business interests; reiterates its call for the adoption of a new media law addressing, inter alia, the issues of independence, ownership and administrative control;

10. Notes the growing dissatisfaction in wide parts of the Turkish population with attempts to regulate lifestyles on the basis of partisan ideology and conviction; deplores, in this context, recent statements regarding family life, the role of women in society, including access to safe abortion, limitations on freedom of the media, offline as well as online, restrictions on the availability of alcoholic beverages, and attempts to censor television entertainment shows; reminds the Turkish government of the need fully to respect secular lifestyles;

11. Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the Vice- President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, the Secretary-General of the Council of Europe, the President of the European Court of Human Rights, the governments and parliaments of the Member States and the Government and Parliament of the Republic of Turkey.