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Secularism and democracy are fundamental for Turkey's European integration


26 Apr 2016


Europe's East
Justice & Home Affairs

The S&D Group calls on the president of the Turkish Parliament, Ismail Kahraman, to insist that the new Turkish constitution must be appropriate for a secular and democratic state.

A religious constitution for a democratic Turkey is unacceptable and could seriously endanger the EU-Turkey accession negotiation process.

Mr Kahraman's statements, as well as recent attitudes against freedom of expression, against journalists and against pluralism are counterproductive and risk compromising Turkey's accession process.

S&D vice-chair for foreign affairs, neighbourhood policy and enlargement, Knut Fleckenstein MEP, said:

"Turkey, as a candidate country for accession must fully respect the two fundamental principles of secularism and democracy, otherwise it will risk compromising its perspective membership of the EU.

"Fundamentalism and nationalism are totally incompatible with European values. Turkey should take advantage of its regional leadership and privileged partnership with the EU to give guidance in order to utilise religion in the fight against religious fundamentalism"

Last week at least four foreign journaists have been denied access to the country and a Dutch-Turkish columnist has been detained on charges of criticising president Erdoğan on social media.

S&D MEP and European Parliament rapporteur on Turkey, Kati Piri said:

"The situation of press freedom in Turkey has reached a new low. In the attempt to silence criticism, no longer only Turkish journalists or pro-Kurdish media are being targeted, but also the foreign press.

"In a democratic country, all journalists should be able to do their work freely. We call on the Turkish government to immediately stop the restrictions on free media and to respect the freedom of expression of all its citizens. It is unacceptable that the Dutch columnist Ebru Umar is not allowed to leave the country."