Turkey’s Under-Pressure Erdogan Pledges to Boost Human Rights

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan speaking in Istanbul in December 2019. Photo: EPA-EFE/ERDEM SAHIN

Erdogan pledged to strengthen freedom of expression and assembly in the country, as well as the right to a fair trial, as part of the plan which he said will be implemented in two years.

"It is not a wish list. We will do everything to substantiate this plan," Erdogan said.

He also pledged that the country will do what is required under an EU-Turkey agreement from 2016 to achieve visa-free travel for Turkish citizens in the Schengen zone.

Erdogan further promised that journalists will be protected and the violence against women will be ended.

"To boost the standard of freedom of expression and the press, Turkey will be developing measures to facilitate the professional activities of journalists," he said.

Experts interpreted the action plan as a move to decrease the pressure from the EU and the US and to attract more investments and to stabilise the country after years of turbulence in domestic and international politics.

Both the US and the EU imposed some light sanctions on Turkey in 2020 but have been warning of heavier sanctions if the country continues in an undemocratic direction.

On Monday, more than 170 members of the House of Representatives in the US signed a bipartisan letter to Secretary of State Antony Blinken urging President Joe Biden's administration to address "troubling" human rights issues when he formulates his policies towards Turkey.

"Strategic issues have rightfully received significant attention in our bilateral relationship, but the gross violation of human rights and democratic backsliding taking place in Turkey are also of significant concern," said the letter, which came a day...

Continue reading on: