Zovko: “As a strategic NATO and European partner, Turkey should rethink its messages that allow irregular migration flows.”

Ankara / Mardin 24-27 February 2020


Member of the European Parliament and EPP Vice Coordinator on the Foreign Affairs Committee, Željana Zovko expresses her great concern about the latest news that Turkey will no longer stop Syrian refugees from entering Europe. “As a strategic NATO and European partner, Turkey should rethink its messages that allow irregular migration flows”, Zovko said.

Earlier this week, Zovko visited the Republic of Turkey as part of the official delegation of the Committee on Foreign Affairs (AFET), where she met with the Turkish Minister of Foreign Affairs Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu and Chairman of the Turkish Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee, Volkan Bozkir. In these meetings, Zovko discussed the EU-Turkey relations and the situation of refugees at European external borders and called for the need of a continued and improved cooperation between both partners. The delegation also discussed the political situation in the Middle East and the current challenges in this region.

Next to the meetings with Turkish senior officials, Zovko met with the President of The Republican Party (CHP), Kemal Kilicadoroglu, representatives of the EU delegation, academics, media and civil society. The agenda also included a meeting with the Pro-Kurdish politician Ahmet Turk. Although he is the democratically elected mayor of Mardin, Turkish authorities dismissed him due to accusations for supporting terrorism. Afterwards, Zovko also met with the governor of Mardin, Mustafa Yaman, who took over the competences of the mayor.

The parliamentary delegation also paid an official visit to an EU-funded Health Center for Syrian refugees and the Deyrulzaferan Syriac Orthodox Monastery where they met with Archbishop Salib Ozmen, the Metropolitan of Mardin. As co-rapporteur for the new financial Instrument for pre-accession Assistance (IPA III), Zovko reiterated the importance of the appropriate use of European external financial funds at a local level. “There is a high need for a tailor-made approach in order to preserve the rich cultural and religious heritage of Christian minorities in places such as Mardin.  This region is the cradle of Christian civilization and history and places as these monasteries that preserve the Aramaic language deserve to be protected”, Zovko stated.

The parliamentary delegation was led by AFET Chairman, MEP David McAllister. The delegation was completed by MEP Sergey Lagodinsky, MEP Michael Gahler, MEP Nikos Androulakis, MEP Elena Yoncheva, MEP Ilhan Kyuckyuk and MEP Katrin Langensiepen. The purpose of the delegation’s visit was to look at the EU-Turkey relations and assess the areas of rule of law, freedom of expression and the media and human rights. The visit took place in the context of the upcoming AFET annual report on Turkey as part of the accession process to the European Union.


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