No EU visa-free travel for Turks, if rule of law is undermined, say MEPs

Kurdish leader Demirtas at EU Parliament in Brussels for talks. Photo: ANF

BRUSSELS (KDN) – If Turkey goes on undermining rule of law principles and stripping Members of the Turkish Parliament of their immunities, then it should not expect to be granted an EU visa-free regime, said Foreign Affairs Committee MEPs on Tuesday in a debate with Selahattin Demirtaş, co-chair of pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP). They also voiced solidarity with Mr Demirtaş’ efforts to revive the Kurdish peace process talks.

Mr Demirtaş, the leader of one of Turkey’s major opposition parties, noted that his country is living through extraordinary times, as its constitution is suspended, political and media rights are violated, and Turkish MPs are stripped of their immunities. Coupled with the halt of Kurdish peace process talks, this has become an “Erdoğan strategy” to ignite national feelings and make President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan “a single man in power”, Mr Demirtaş explained.

MEPs were worried by Mr Demirtaş’ claims, that the Turkish opposition might be put behind bars as soon as next week, given that the Turkish public prosecutor is filing terrorist propaganda charges. Several MEPs stated that with the opposition in prison and rule of law principles neglected, Turkey should not expect to get an EU visa-free regime any time soon.

Kurdish peace talks

A large majority of MEPs expressed solidarity with Mr Demirtaş’ efforts to revive the Kurdish peace process talks and called on him to denounce the violence and terrorist attacks. He agreed that “the solution is not in violence or firearms, but in negotiations”, calling on the European Parliament act as a mediator to this end.


Asked by several MEPs about the future of the EU-Turkey migration deal, the HDP leader said that refugees “are not a big burden for us […], but they can only return to their homeland if there is stability in Syria.” He also noted that President Erdoğan should not be taking decisions alone on the future of EU-Turkey relations or the annulment of EU-Turkey deals..