MEPs call for sanctions on Turkey over human rights violations

Members of the European Parliament have signed a letter to EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell calling for “tough sanctions on Turkey” over human rights violations.

Last month’s European Council meeting saw EU leaders agree to suspend the threat of sanctions  against the country after a diplomatic drive by Ankara.

“We choose not to be silent against the crimes committed by Erdoğan. We must not follow the failed appeasement policy of the late 1930s towards Nazi Germany, which humanity paid with such a heavy cost,” one of the letter’s signatories, Socialist MEP Costas Mavrides, told Parliament Magazine.  

In December, EU leaders had approved the extension of asset freezes and travel bans on Turkish entities involved in drilling for natural gas in disputed waters in the eastern Mediterranean.

Turkey is locked in a dispute with EU members Greece and Cyprus over access to the recently discovered hydrocarbons.

A report into EU-Turkey relations prepared by Borrell ahead of the European Council meeting in March was expected to highlight a number of other issues including human rights concerns.

But the report’s findings were watered down after successful meetings between senior Turkish and EU officials, according to Reuters.

“We must put our European values above any national interest. We have to decide whether we are promoting values, or business,” Parliament Magazine cited another signatory to the letter, European People's Party MEP Loucas Fourlas, as saying. 

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan recently withdrew the country from the Istanbul Convention, a Council of Europe charter requiring signatories to tackle violence against women. 

Turkish state prosecutors have also begun legal proceedings to close the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), the second-largest opposition grouping the country’s parliament.