Council of Europe: EU-Turkey deal unsatisfactory

22 April 2016

Council of Europe: EU-Turkey deal unsatisfactory

Foto: SP

The deal between the European Union and Turkey over the return of refugees is in conflict with human rights and international law, according to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE). SP Senator Tiny Kox, president of the United Left Group in PACE, hopes that the EU will take the criticism seriously. “This week the president of the European Commission told us in Strasbourg that he sees the Council of Europe as the most important touchstone for human rights in Europe,” he says. “Well, the deal has been tested and the result is: this deal won’t do!”

PACE arrived at its verdict after a week of debates around the controversial agreement designed to keep refugees out of Europe in return for billions of euros in aid to Turkey. Both Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker and Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu attempted in Strasbourg to persuade MPs from across Europe that the deal was in order. The verdict from European Human Rights Commissioner Nils Muiznieks, however, ran contrary to this view, questioning as he does the legality and morality of the accord. ‘I observed that not all of this can be true and that the Council of Europe must be strict if it wants to retain respect,’ Kox explains. ‘Strict with the EU, the members of which are all also member states of the Council of Europe. And strict with Turkey, which also belongs to the Council of Europe. If we are the touchstone in relation to human rights, then our judgments must be heeded!

‘The majority of the Assembly gladly supported the well-informed calls from the rapporteurs which it had appointed, Tineke Strik of the Dutch Green Left and Annette Groth of Germany’s Die Linke (The Left), above all to give better protection to the refugees and to send none of them back to Turkey as long as no legal guarantees are given regarding upholding their rights. Of course it’s good that we are trying to manage the flow of refugees and prevent disasters but simply sending peopleback to a country that itself scarcely bothers about human rights is unacceptable. And if we really want to bring about structural change, then we have to ensure that the war in Syria stops. So, not bombs but international reflection; not shady deals but respect for international law!'

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