EU concerned over Turkish Cypriots freedom threat

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The EU’s foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell, said the bloc made clear that Turkey urgently needs to make concrete progress in respecting fundamental rights while expressing concern over attempts to undermine freedom of expression in the Turkish Cypriot community.

CNA said Borrell was responding to a letter addressed to him by Foreign Minister Constantinos Kombos about Turkish Cypriot journalist Ali Kismir, President of the Turkish Cypriot Press Workers’ Union (Basın-Sen), who was censored for an article he wrote criticizing the regime two years ago.

The journalist has been barred entry to Turkey since 2021.

Borrell notes that human rights are amongst the EU’s founding values and fundamental to accession and that the EU’s concern about Turkey’s human rights records is evident.

He notes that the EU has also spoken to the Turkish Cypriot leader and has underlined the importance of preserving the freedom of expression and assembly in the Turkish Cypriot community.

Borrell said it is “imperative for Turkey to contribute in concrete terms and undertake responsible actions to creating a conducive environment for negotiations on the Cyprus issue”.

He reiterates to his Turkish counterpart that a Cyprus solution can only benefit EU-Turkey relations and the region’s stability.

In a letter on August 14, Kombos asked Borrell and the EU to react to the issue of Ali Kismir, a citizen of the Republic of Cyprus.

According to ECHR decisions, Turkey is liable for the attempts to undermine the freedom and pluralism of the media in Turkey and the Turkish Cypriot community.

Kombos says that this case “merely manifests Turkey’s incessant backsliding” in terms of media freedom and persecution of journalists for political reasons.

“Ankara continues to undermine the prospects for the resumption of settlement talks.”

He asked Borrell to take a firm position and attribute these issues the importance they deserve, especially when preparing the report on the state of play of EU-Turkey relations in the autumn.