The Annual International Conference on the EU, Turkey, the Middle East and the Kurds was hosted by the EU Turkey Civic Commission (EUTCC) in cooperation with the GUE/NGL Group, the Greens-European Free Alliance (GREENS/EFA) and the Groups of the Free Alliance of Socialists and Democrats (S&D). The conference met on 5th and 6th of February 2020 in the European Parliament in Brussels.
EU Turkey Civic Commission
The EU Turkey Civic Commissions patrons include Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, South Africa, Bianca Jagger, The Council of Europe Goodwill Ambassador Chair of the Bianca Jagger Human Rights Foundation, Noam Chomsky Institute Professor in the Department of Linguistics and Philosophy, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the USA, Doug Nicholls, General Secretary, General Federation of Trade Unions, UK and the Freedom for Ocalan campaign co-chairs Simon Dubbins, Unite International Director and Labour Party Peer, Christine Blower.
The 16th annual meeting met to discuss the current and developing situation in Turkey and the Middle East and drew together politicians, trade unionists, legal experts and human rights defenders from around the world to discuss what needed to be done to promote peace and justice in the region.
The brutalisation of politics in Turkey
Opening a panel on oppression and resistance in Turkey, Dr Joost Jongerden, of Wageningen University, Netherlands, stated “We have a seen a brutalisation of politics in Turkey. A denial of a right to a liveable life for Kurds. The question is how to contribute to a peaceful resolution from Europe?”
All panellists were adamant that the soft touch from the international community with regards to the Turkish states flagrant and frequent disregard for humanitarian and international law must end. The international community must do more than simply condemn the actions of the expansionist Erdogan regime and seek robust sanctions against it to avoid a deepening humanitarian catastrophe.
EU Turkey Civic Commissions final resolution
After his first visit to the country, the Turkey Rapporteur for the European Parliament said, new narratives are needed for the relationship between Turkey and the EU. From the perspective of the conference, new narratives are also needed, not only for relations with Turkey but also for the whole Middle East. The Kurds are a major influential factor here in terms of stability, peacebuilding, democracy, ecology and gender equality. Together with their regional allies and due to their global perspectives, they provide a basis for new narratives in a region marked by wars and crises. Strengthening cooperation with these democratic forces should, therefore, be a top priority.16th annual meeting of The EU Turkey Civic Commission
Based on this the conference calls upon the EU member states, the European institutions and the United Nations to:
- Treat Turkey’s occupation of North Syria / Rojava as a clear violation of international law, condemn its policy of ethnic cleansing in the occupied territory, and call for an immediate withdrawal of Turkish troops.
- Recognise North-East Syria’s Autonomous Administration as an important step towards a political solution to the Syrian conflict and to integrate their representatives in the commission for the establishment of a new constitution for Syria. The best way for a solution is to include all ethnic and religious entities in a democratic process leading to a decentralized self-administration with equal rights for women and men.
- Urge Turkey to stop airstrikes and its occupationist endeavours in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq which is a clear violation of international law.
- Urge Turkey to release all elected officials and members of the HDP, to respect the decision of the electorates, and to reinstitute the mayors replaced by the government-appointed trustees.
- Not to sacrifice the EU’s democratic values by caving into Turkey’s blackmailing on the issues of the refugee crisis and the jihadist threat.
- Take diplomatic, political and legal measures to compel Turkey to comply with international law concerning the ongoing isolation of Abdullah Ocalan, and urge the Turkish government to immediately release him and to return to dialogue for a political solution to the Kurdish question.
- Contribute to a political solution by lifting all restrictions on Kurdish parties and individuals, in light of the decisions of the European Court of Justice and the Belgian Court of Cassation, which insist that the PKK is not a terrorist organization but a party to an internal armed conflict.
How can you help the campaign?
With growing support in the trade union movement, devolved governments and the Parliamentary Labour Party, the Freedom for Ocalan campaign is calling on trade unionists and activists to support the many local campaigns now running throughout the UK and Europe.
If you’re a member of a trade union it’s critical you support us by requesting your branch, regional or national trade union affiliate now.
With trade union support in the last twelve months we’ve been able to;
- Have the privilege of being the international solidarity theme for the 2018 Durham Miners Gala and had a major presence at this years Tolpuddle Martyrs festival 2019
- Send delegations to Turkey and Kurdistan and support local trade unions
- Successfully lobby the devolved government of Wales to support the goals of the campaign
- Run conferences in the House of Lords and City Hall London