Advocacy visits in Berlin and Brussels by Heinrich Böll Stiftung and MLSA

Media and Law Studies Association (MLSA) together with the Turkey Office of Heinrich Böll Stiftung carried out advocacy visits in Brussels and Berlin between November 7 and 12.

The delegation comprised of the Co-Director of MLSA Veysel Ok, the Chair of the Human Rights Association’s (İHD) İstanbul Branch Gülseren Yoleri, the Legal Coordinator of Kaos GL Kerem Dikmen,  the Deputy Head of the Turkey Office of Heinrich Böll Stiftung Julia Bartmann and MLSA’s Projects and Communications Coordinator Mümtaz Murat Kök commenced their visits on November 8th in Brussels. The first meeting was held with the Deputy Managing Director of the European External Action Service Marko Makovec. Sharing the recent developments in their fields of expertise, human rights defenders also replied to the questions of Makovec. The delegation also shared their concerns regarding the difficulties faced with Schengen visa applications and relayed their requests for the solution of a problem which also affects the civil society in Turkey. Makovec was also informed about the fact that the EU’s deal with Turkey alleviates the human rights violations to which refugees are subjected to.

After the meeting with Makovec, human rights defenders met with the Head of the Türkiye Unit of the European Commission DG Neighbourhood and Enlargement Negotiations Bernard Brunet and the representatives of the Commission. The Commission representatives who were informed about the increasing pressure on civil society in Turkey emphasized that the EU support to civil society in Turkey will continue.

The delegation concluded their first day in Brussels with a roundtable at the Brussels Office of Heinrich Böll Stiftung. The representatives of think-tanks and NGOs based in Brussels had a fruitful discussion with the members of the delegation and shared with them the increasing pressure they face while defending human rights in Turkey.

On November 9th, human rights defenders met with the European Parliament’s Standing Rapporteur for Turkey Nacho Sánchez Amor and the Chair of the EU-Turkey Parliamentary Delegation Sergey Lagodinsky. The delegation discussed the acute problems in Turkey regarding democracy and the rule of law with Sánchez Amor and Lagodinsky. Stressing the importance of the unwavering support of the Parliament for human rights defenders in Turkey as elections draw near, human rights defenders emphasized that universal values should not be sacrificed for geopolitical interests.

Human rights defenders commenced their visits in Berlin with a meeting with the Bündnis 90/ die Grünen MP Max Lucks on November 10th. Asking questions regarding matters which he closely follows, Lucks also noted the remarks of the delegation concerning the infringement process initiated against Turkey by the Committee of Ministers. Stressing the importance of Turkey remaining within the Council of Europe, human rights defenders shared with Lucks the problems regarding the implementation of the judgments of the European Court of Human Rights.

The delegation later came together with Ambassador Susanne Schütz, Director for South-Eastern  Europe, Turkey, OSCE, Council of Europe at the Federal Foreign Office. Explaining the problems regarding the implementation of the judgments of the European Court of Human Rights, human rights defenders answered the questions of Ambassador Schütz about the difficulties civil society in Turkey faces.

Human rights defenders concluded the first day of their meetings in Berlin with a roundtable at Heinrich Böll Stiftung’s Berlin Office. The delegation came together with the representatives of NGOs and journalists based in Berlin and answered their questions about acute human rights violations in Turkey.

The second day of advocacy meetings in Berlin started with a meeting with the international-European Coordinator of Bündnis 90/ die Grünen Pegah Edalatian. The delegation had a fruitful discussion on human rights issues in Turkey and possible collaborations with Edalatian.

The delegation concluded advocacy visits with a meeting with Minister of State for Europe and Climate Anna Lührmann. Sharing her deep concerns and regrets that Turkey has withdrawn from the İstanbul Convention, Lührmann asked human rights defenders the current pressures they face in Turkey while also emphasizing that protection of civil society is an important criteria for the improvement of Turkey- Europe relations.