The Irish Government, together with the European Union, continues to view developments in Turkey with regard to freedom of media, human rights, rule of law and democracy, as well as the high volume of arrests and detentions of individuals such as those mentioned in the Deputy’s Question, with grave concern.
The Conclusions on Enlargement adopted on 26 June last at the General Affairs Council stated that Turkey has been moving away from the EU and that accession negotiations have, therefore, come to a standstill. Concerns were expressed, including by Ireland, regarding backsliding on the rule of law and fundamental rights, and regarding measures targeting journalists, academics, members of political parties, parliamentarians, human rights defenders, social media users, and others exercising their fundamental rights and freedoms. Both the EU and the Government have repeatedly called on Turkey to address any failings in this area.
In March this year, EU leaders met with President Erdoan and reiterated the importance of upholding the highest standards of democracy, while expressing concern that some of the methods used to restore order following the failed coup in 2016 had undermined fundamental freedoms and the rule of law in Turkey.
Officials from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade have frequent contact with officials in the Turkish Embassy, and have raised issues relating to the human rights situation in Turkey, and the large-scale arrests and detentions of individuals in the country, on a number of occasions throughout the year.
In August this year, I issued a statement welcoming the decision taken by the Turkish courts to release Mr. Taner Kýlýç, the Chair of Amnesty International Turkey. I expressed my concerns relating to this arrest and to the continued detention of other human-rights defenders, journalists and political activists since the attempted coup in July 2016. In the same statement, I called on the Turkish authorities to ensure that full due process is respected in the judicial system and that each detainee is granted a fair trial.
Together with our European partners, we will continue to monitor government actions that undermine freedom of expression, democracy, the rule of law, and fundamental rights in Turkey, and to consider the implications of these actions for relations with Turkey.