Dr. Andreas Nick: freedom of expression is a core component of a liberal democracy

MIL OSI Translation. Region: Germany / Germany –

Source: CDU, CSU,

Mister President! Dear Colleagues! Undoubtedly, in recent years we have witnessed an ever worsening of the domestic political situation in Turkey: the Gezi Park protests in 2013, the 2015 elections, and the resumption of the conflict with the PKK over the coup attempt in July 2016 and subsequent ones The state of emergency until the referendum on the constitutional amendment and the early parliamentary and presidential elections in 2018. It is undeniable that Turkey has increasingly developed in the direction of an authoritarian government and state model.

(Call from the LEFT)

Numerous aspects of this development have been repeatedly criticized here and elsewhere: the imprisonment of parliamentarians and journalists, the restriction of the freedom of the press and expression as well as the dismissal of more than 100,000 civil servants – administrative officials, judges, soldiers, teachers and professors.

During a visit to Ankara at the end of 2016, I witnessed the arrest of editors of the Cumhuriyet newspaper and a designated interlocutor, HDP's co-chair, Ms. Yüksekdag, the night before our appointment was arrested.

The convictions of former HDP co-chair Selahattin Demirtas on 7 September and former HDP MP Önder for several years imprisonment for statements made in 2013 are particularly problematic.

Ladies and gentlemen, in all clarity: Parliamentarians belong in Parliament and not in prison!

(Applause from the CDU / CSU, the SPD, the FDP, the LEFT and the Alliance 90 / the Greens)

Freedom of expression for Members and journalists is at the heart of liberal democracy and must be fully protected.

The partly arbitrary arrests of German citizens in Turkey also severely burdened bilateral relations. German citizens are still in detention in Turkey for apparently political reasons.

However, we expressly welcome the successful efforts of the Federal Government, which, as in the case of Yücel and Steudtner, have contributed to the release of German citizens, also through judicial decisions by Turkish courts. We also welcome the recent release of Taner Kilic, the honorary chairman of Amnesty International in Turkey.

The referendum on the constitutional amendment and the early parliamentary and presidential elections mark a turning point in the development of Turkey. The high turnout of 88 percent and the diversity of the parties involved illustrate the appreciation for the pluralistic democracy in the Turkish population. However, this requires a firm foundation through the unrestricted exercise of fundamental rights and the rule of law.

Although the elections were held under conditions of emergency with a short lead time and unilateral media coverage of the election campaign, the results are also accepted by the opposition in Turkey. This reality must also take note of our foreign policy; Turkey will remain an important partner for us in the future.

For the foreseeable future, therefore, we are faced with the challenge of a difficult dual strategy: to take a clear stance on fundamental values ​​such as democracy and the rule of law, freedom of the press and human rights, but on the other hand the Not to give up Turkey and its people but, where feasible and necessary, to continue dialogue and cooperation, especially with regard to Turkish civil society.

A key platform for strengthening the rule of law is the Council of Europe, where Turkey is a member almost from the beginning. The Council of Europe, in particular, has the right tools to influence Turkey on the key issues of protecting human rights, the rule of law and pluralist democracy.

In 2017, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe reintroduced the so-called monitoring procedure with regard to Turkey. In doing so, a committee continuously monitors compliance with Turkey's obligations as a founding member of the Council of Europe.

The European Convention on Human Rights and the case law of the European Court of Human Rights are a central reference point for ensuring human rights and the rule of law. The independence of Turkey's Supreme Constitutional Court must continue to be ensured and its judgments recognized and implemented at all levels of Turkish justice.

On the recommendation of the Council of Europe, a state commission has been set up in Turkey, which for the first time gives dismissed civil servants the right to have their dismissal reviewed, even though only a few cases have been decided there.

We welcome the lifting of the state of emergency in Turkey as a first important step. However, numerous measures remain in force through the Security Act of 25 June. This, as well as the challenges posed by the new presidential system, must remain a theme. In the process, it will be crucial how Turkey behaves in future to recommendations of the Venice Commission of the Council of Europe.

Ladies and gentlemen, Turkey's internal constitution should not go further than its own strategic interests. This undoubtedly includes good relations with the West – both politically and economically.

In Germany, we, for our part, continue to have a vital interest in a prosperous Turkey, with a stable democracy and a vibrant civil society, with a strong orientation to the West and connections to Europe. This applies not least in view of more than 3 million people of Turkish origin living in our country home.

It is, therefore, to measure the relations between Germany, the EU and Turkey in a changing environment. This requires Dialogue, and this also contributes to the invitation of the Federal President to President Erdogan.

Thank you for your attention.

(Applause from the CDU/CSU as well as from members of the SPD)

EDITOR’S NOTE: This article is a translation. Please forgive us should the grammar and/or sentence structure need be perfect.