Held in conjunction with the EU Turkey Civic Commission (EUTCC), GUE/NGL is hosting the 13th International Conference on ‘The European Union, Turkey, The Middle East and The Kurds’ over two days at the European Parliament.

Speaking at the conference, GUE/NGL President Gabi Zimmer has expressed her gratitude and deep respect to all the activists for their commitment in the ongoing struggle for democracy and human rights.

“Human rights are indivisible and apply to all people – irrespective of whether they belong to a majority group in a country or to a different culture.”

“President Erdoğan has transformed Turkish democracy into a dictatorship and is waging war against his own people.”

“We have long reached a point where we must do more than express dismay and indignation. But with the EU-Turkey deal on refugees, the EU has become Erdoğan’s henchman and lackey,” she said.

Zimmer added that GUE/NGL has called for a review of the EU-Turkey statement, plus the freezing of accession negotiations until the rule of law has been restored and for sanctions to be considered against the Turkish authorities, saying:

“We bear a political responsibility. With today's conference, we want to send, once again, a clear signal that EU is committed to taking proper action against the situation in Turkey,” the German MEP concluded.

Takis Hadjigeorgiou MEP, Vice-Chair of the European Parliament’s delegation to Turkey, also stressed the importance of having this conference:

“Our group has organised this international conference during these exceptional and challenging times.”

“It is critical for us here in Brussels and the European Parliament to raise awareness with the ongoing developments regarding the Kurdish situation and the repression against the Kurds and Turkish society in general.”

“It is unacceptable that hundreds of Kurds have been jailed – especially the leaders of the HDP.  It’s time for the EU to stand up to this situation. It is time for the EU to take measures and apply pressure upon Ankara to change its policies both internally and externally. The current situation in Aleppo‎ and the grave risk of the city becoming a graveyard of humanity are all interrelated as well,” said Hadjigeorgiou.

French MEP Marie-Christine Vergiat is, however, in reflective mood at the conference:

“This annual conference has added importance this year given the situation in the Middle East and Turkey.

“Kurdish views and the analysis of their situation are very important, as demonstrated by the testimony of Salih Muslim (Co-President of Democratic Union Party, Rojava-Syria) at the conference.”

“Our only regret is that Selahattin Demirtaş and Figen Yüksekdağ are both currently in prison in Turkey and cannot be with us,” lamented Vergiat.

The conference continues on Thursday 8th December at 09h30.

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