To the Members of the European Parliament

07/09/2012 – Ms Jill Evans, Mr François Alfonsi, Ms Nicole Kiil-Nielsen, Ms Franziska Brantner, Ms Rebecca Harms, Ms Heide Rühle, Mr Jean Lambert, Ms Ana Miranda, Ms Margarete Auken, Mr Werner Schulz, Mr Bart Staes, Mr Keith Taylor, Mr Raül Romeva i Rueda,

Dear Honourable Members,

Thank you for your letter concerning Leyla Zana.

The Commission has been following the case of Ms Zana for many years, and I had the pleasure of meeting Ms Zana myself recently. We are indeed concerned about the most recent ruling, and I have made this very clear publically on a number of occasions.

We regard freedom of expression as a fundamental value, the protection of which should always be properly guaranteed, including in the framework of counter-terrorism policy.

Turkey should address the issue of a too wide interpretation of terrorism by the courts, and make sure a clear distinction is made in law and in practice between the incitement to violence and the non-violent expression of ideas.  We expect Turkey to adequately address this in the announced 4th judicial reform package.

Fundamental rights are a key priority in the Commission’s monitoring of progress on the political criteria for Turkey. The Commission systematically raises specific cases of violations of human rights brought with the Turkish authorities. Furthermore, the EU delegation in Turkey closely monitors important cases such as the case of Ms Zana, including by attending trail hearings.

We will continue to closely follow the appeal of this case, and other cases brought to our attention.

ŠTEFAN FÜLE                                                                                                      

Member of the European Commission

Brussels 31.8.2012