BRUSSELS: Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan will face tough questioning from GUE/NGL group President Gabi Zimmer later today as the Turkish leader’s Brussels charm offensive takes him to the European Parliament. Zimmer will raise several key issues with Erdogan, focusing on worrying signs of political repression in Turkey and instability in the region.
“A lot of disturbing signs came out of Turkey in 2013 so we need assurances from Erdogan that there will be a change in tack from his government. Since last summer’s mass protests against plans to build over Gezi Park in Istanbul, Turkey has seen a heavy-handed crackdown on protestors. Turkey also imprisoned 27 journalists in 2013, that’s more than both China and Iran. This, and the on-going pressure on the judiciary in the country, is serious cause for concern that I will broach this afternoon with the Prime Minister.”
Gabi Zimmer will tell PM Erdogan that any escalation of the conflict in Syria will just increase the suffering of the Syrian people. “Militant groups increase their influence under such conditions, while those who stand for peaceful and political solutions will be side-lined. We must support non-violence as the only way forward.”
On the Cyprus issue, Zimmer’s message will reiterate the GUE/NGL position in favour of a solution based on a bicommunal, bizonal federation according to United Nations resolutions. “Turkey is clearly in violation of the principles of international law, the UN Charter, and the rights of the Cypriot people. Today I will stress that a possible return of Famagusta to its inhabitants would be a decisive step towards a comprehensive solution to the Cyprus problem.”
The peace process with the Kurds will also figure among the topics for discussion, with Zimmer set to emphasise the urgent need for constitutional reform. “None of the key Kurdish demands – Kurdish language education in public schools, the release of political prisoners and the introduction of a fair electoral threshold to enable parliamentary pluralism – are being dealt with by Ankara. The progress made so far in the peace process can only be brought to a successful conclusion if both sides make the necessary effort,” she concluded.