Turkey, The EU, And Migration

Centre on Religion & Geopolitics

Turkey, The EU, And Migration

31 May 2016

In May, the Centre on Religion & Geopolitics (CRG) and the British Institute of Turkish Affairs (BITAF) hosted a well-attended event in Parliament on "Turkey, the EU, and migration". Parliamentarians joined a lively debate covering the Syrian migration crisis, Turkey's application to the EU, and the current nature of political debates inside Turkey.

CRG's Ed Husain chaired the event, alongside a panel of Talip Küçükcan MP, the head of the Turkish delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe; and Ceren Kenar, a journalist from the Turkish daily newspaper Turkiye.

Mr Küçükcan emphasised the need for more European states to help bear the burden of the Syrian refugee crisis, whilst putting forward the case for why the PKK should be seen as a violent extremist organisation. He said that Europe has a different perspective on the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) than it does on ISIS. Mr Küçükcan said that he believed that violence and fear are the same in whatever form they manifests themselves, saying that "in Turkey there's no question that the PKK and the Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) are the same organisation, but in Europe and in Britain they are seen as two separate organisations."

Ceren Kenar also called upon European states to change their understanding when it comes to the security threats facing the Turkish people, urging Europeans to understand the complexity of the issue. Ms Kenar talked about the changing public perception of the EU within Turkey, and how this is leading to a growing scepticism of Turkish people towards EU membership.

A robust discussion followed between Madeleine Moon MP, Vice Chair of the APPG on Turkey, and other British parliamentarians, over the recent behaviour of the Turkish Government with regards to censorship. Ms Moon emphasised that limits on human rights, such as freedom of expression and the press, act as a barrier towards Turkish membership of the EU. She urged the Turkish Government to open dialogue with UK parliamentarians on these issues.