EU leaders should put human rights at the forefront of relations with Türkiye 

In a letter addressed to President Michel, President Von Der Leyen and High Representative Borrell, in view of ongoing discussions on the future of EU-Türkiye relations and ahead of the 14-15 December European Council, Amnesty International urges the EU leaders to put respect for human rights and support to independent civil society at the forefront of their engagement with the Turkish authorities.

EU discussions on engaging with Türkiye take place against the backdrop of a protracted erosion of the rule of law and a sustained crackdown on human rights in the country. This has included the government’s persistent weaponization of the judiciary to silence critical voices; the systematic violation of the rights to freedom of expression, association, and peaceful assembly; a widening crackdown on independent civil society and mounting attacks on the rights of LGBTI people, refugees and migrants.

Amid this continued backsliding, it is crucial that EU leaders resist any calls to pivot towards more transactional relations with Türkiye, where human rights are side-lined in favour of cooperation on “issues of mutual interest”. Indeed, in an era of increasing geopolitical upheaval, adherence to human rights and the rule of law should become more, not less central to the EU’s relations with its strategic partners.