„This Tayyip Erdogan won’t change“ – Speech about the situation in Turkey in the EP

„This Tayyip Erdogan won’t change“. This is what prime minister Erdogan said yesterday to his party. He does not want to change. He claims it is enough to represent those who elected him and just ignore all those who didn’t support him in the last elections – but he does not seem to understand that many of the people who once voted for him are now protesting against him. And he does not seem to understand at all, that in a democracy, a head of government represents all people, not only his political camp.

For a while, Erdogan seemed to have chosen a path of reforms. But he did not continue with it. He even offered a tentative roadmap for the Kurdish people – It is ironic that instead, he is now using the „deep state“ to dismantle the achievements of the positive aspects of the Kemalist revolution, to turn back the time on the secular developments in Turkey.

The planned barracks in Gezi park are only the latest symbol of his nationalisation and islamisation of Turkey. But the people have had enough!

The people are the ones protesting against him and his ultraconservative policies. And how does he react? With pure, brutal violence. We have all seen the pictures and videos and read the statements of peaceful protesters. After 10 days of protests, 4 dead and over 5,000 injured, he agreed to meet with some representatives of the demonstrations. And then? He has the police crack down on Taksim square at dawn, shooting teargas at children and families.

My group, the Socialists and Democrats, have always supported the possibility of Turkey’s accession to the EU. Turkey is an important partner, and we have strong links, historically, economically, in many ways.

This is why we demand that chapters 23 and 24 should be opened without delay. These chapters: rule of law and freedom of speech, are where we see problems. Let’s talk about the problems and either Turkey advances and complies with European standards – or we can close the negotiations.

But, Mr Erdogan must understand that to comply with European standards in freedom of speech and rule of law, Turkey can no longer be the country in the world in which the most journalists are in prison. Mr Erdogan cannot jail – like he did yesterday – 50 lawyers who participate in a demonstration. And he must stop threatening the Turkish people with more violence, physical and political.

We welcome the fact that there have been some reconciliating, moderate voices: President Gül, deputy prime minister Arinc – traditionally more conservative than Erdogan – have showed they are much more reasonable than Erdogan.

But this European Parliament must not stand by in silence – and the Socialists and Democrats Group do not! – while a government that was elected democratically ignores the very fundamental principles of democracy: freedom of speech, freedom of association,

We condemn the violence, we condemn the ignorance and we condemn Mr Erdogan’s ignorant and autocratic response. Colleagues, let us send a strong signal with a strong resolution to Mr Erdogan. Turkey, if it wants to be part of Europe in any way – has to stop the brutality immediately.