The Turkish parliament’s decision to lift the immunity from prosecution of 138 of its members was criticized by MEPs on Wednesday. In a debate with EU Enlargement Commissioner Johannes Hahn, they described it as an attempt by Turkey’s President Erdoğan to silence the opposition and grab more powers. This decision undermines the rule of law and freedom of expression and might harm EU-Turkey relations, they added.
Commissioner Hahn stressed that the EU has demonstrated its willingness re-energise its engagement with Turkey and has delivered on its side with political and financial support. But this is not a one-way street and there are serious setbacks that affect the rule of law and freedom of expression situation in Turkey, he added.
MEPs from all the political groups criticised the Turkish parliament’s decision to strip 138 of its members, most from the pro-Kurdish opposition, of their immunity from prosecution. They called on Turkey to respect the rule of law and freedom of expression and to protect minority rights.
Some MEPs described the Turkish parliament’s decision as an attempt by President Erdoğan to silence opposition, change the constitution and increase presidential powers, which they said, runs counter to Turkey’s EU accession responsibility to ensure the stability of institutions.