Istanbul: About vision of a common future for EU and Turkey and need to respect democratic freedoms
Istanbul (8 June) – "Energising the EU accession process and strengthening democracy by respecting rights and freedoms are two sides of the same coin", Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighbourhood Policy, Štefan Füle, said in Istanbul where he met with Prime Minister, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, the Minister for EU Affairs, the Minister of Justice, the Ombudsman and representatives of civil society and think-tanks. He also visited Taksim square in Istanbul and exchanged views with the activists from the Taksim Solidarity Platform.
"Democracy is not only about winning elections but also about inclusive dialogue and reaching out to those who are not represented by the parliamentary majority" Commissioner Füle underlined in discussions about the recent demonstrations and the way they have been handled by the authorities. "I was in Turkey not only to discuss the future of our relations and how to succeed in building a common future, but also to convey our concerns about the excessive use of force against those making use of their right to freedom of assembly and expression" he said. In his speech at the Conference "Rethinking Global Challenges" Commissioner Füle called for a swift and transparent investigation of the excessive use of force and underlined the need to bring those responsible to account. He also outlined his vision for the future of EU-Turkey relations in which the EU remains the benchmark for modernisation and reform efforts (see the speech here).
During his meetings in Istanbul, Commissioner Füle stressed that in a democratic society, respect for freedom of expression and freedom of assembly was crucial. He also expressed regret over the initial selective coverage of the events related to Taksim square and self-censorship in parts of the media: "Free and critical media are an important pillar of a democracy. I call on the Turkish media to embrace their role in independent, balanced and objective reporting".
Commissioner Füle reiterated his conviction that Turkey´s place is in the EU and efforts should continue on both sides to work on achieving this shared goal. "Recent events demonstrate the need for increased cooperation on issues covered by the accession process starting with political criteria, fundamental freedoms and human rights. We support reforms in Turkey necessary to build a modern, pluralistic society based on inclusiveness and dialogue and heading towards EU membership".
More information: Commissioner´s interview about Turkey for Le Monde