24 September 2017
Co-chair Reinhard Bütikofer comments on the results of the German federal election:
“The grand coalition has fallen from favour with German voters:
“Both SPD and CDU/CSU lost considerably. AfD, the extreme right, managed to enter the Bundestag for the first time with a higher result than most polls predicted. This is a shock that necessitates us, as well as all the other democratic parties, to stand up reliably for the values on which our republic is founded.
“We can proudly say that the Green result is better than any poll indicated over the last year. I believe we have been able to grow stronger because of our clear position on the big issues of environment, climate, justice and Europe. That we were chosen as an antidote to extreme right AfD. That voters that had voted SPD in the past decided Green was the useful vote this time.
“The participation rate in the election rose from 71% to 75%, which is a positive signal.
“The way forward is going to be difficult and treacherous. When called upon to discuss a new government, the German Greens will not run from our responsibilities. As promised before the election, we are ready to talk with all democratic parties. But not about everything. There are clear criteria that we have pledged to uphold to our electorate: We want to close down the 20 dirtiest coal fired power plants in the country now. We want a progressive transport and agriculture policy. We will stand for more justice. And we will champion the cause of a stronger European Union, making use of the window of opportunity that exists in the triangle between Paris, Brussels and Berlin.
“In the end it will be up to our members to decide in an referendum, whether we will be mandated to fight for these goals in the next government, or in the opposition.”
1. The failed military coup of 15th of July 2016 was deeply traumatic for Turkish society; the EGP reiterates its strongest rejection of all attempts to overturn an elected government through violence and expresses solidarity with all the victims. In particular, we were dismayed by the loss of lives, the attack on Parliament and by the fact that some military turned their weapons against their people; we were impressed by the rejection of military rule by Turkish society at large.
2. The European Green party and its members are committed to the idea that to be part of the European family all countries, including Turkey, must adhere to all relevant conditions and obligations and notably to the Copenhagen criteria; we have supported all efforts to implement adequate democratic institutional and legislative reforms and civil society activities over many years; indeed, as a candidate country and as a member of the Council of Europe since 1950, Turkey is expected to uphold the highest standards of democracy, including the absence of the death penalty, respect for human rights, the rule of law, fundamental freedoms and the universal right of all to a fair trial;
3. That is why, even before the attempted coup, we expressed our strong condemnation of the on-going repression of critical voices, journalists, academics, political and social activists, as well as their legal representatives in Turkey and raised our concerns about the increasing division and polarization of Turkish society. We have called on the EU and member state governments not to remain silent faced with this clear degradation of the democratic system in Turkey. We have promoted missions to Turkey to show solidarity and support to those concerned; we also reiterated our condemnation of all acts of terrorism;
4. After the coup, the state of emergency quickly became a tool to launch a very extensive and disproportional repression not only against the promoters of the coup, but indiscriminately against all critical voices; this was combined with reiterated calls for the reestablishment of the death penalty in the wake of the suspension of the European Convention on Human Rights. The bombings, imposed curfews and on-going violent conflict in predominantly Kurdish cities in the South-East, reignited by the sudden break-down of the peace process in April 2015 by the Turkish government, led to numerous civil and military losses, to which added up the arrest of 110 directly elected mayors in the area, including the mayors of Diyarbakir. And this also has created tensions within Turkish and within Kurdish communities elsewhere in Europe;
5. During a mission to Turkey organised by the Greens/EFA Group in the European Parliament in November 2016, it was possible to meet government officials, representatives of all political parties represented in Parliament and of the EU mission in Turkey; and to have first-hand testimonials of the extremely dangerous situation faced by so many politicians, trade union members, academics, judges, lawyers, journalists, writers, TV channels, radio channels, representatives of minorities, NGOs dealing with support to disadvantaged social groups and refugees; repressive actions against the alleged plotters soon evolved into massive arbitrary indiscriminate measures against hundreds of thousands of individuals, the pace and intensity of which took many citizens and observers by surprise.
6. The recent arrest of HDP co-presidents MPs Selahattin Demirtas and Figen Yüksekdağ, and 10 other members of the Grand National Assembly, determined a new and very alarming development of an already extremely repressive context, in which the voices of peace and moderation are silenced. We value that the HDP represents many progressive forces in Turkey and has strong support amongst Kurdish and Roma communities, LGBTIQ and other minorities;
7. In particular, after the coup, some 150 journalists - the highest number in the world- , 2 386 judges-prosecutors; 40 000 people have been detained and more than 31 000 remain under arrest, 129 000 public employees remain either suspended (66 000) or have been dismissed (63 000); in many cases, those concerned had their properties and bank accounts confiscated with no explanation; after years of constant progress, different sources consistently report on the widespread return of torture in prisons and ill treatment of those detained, often without charge; moreover, now, even these numbers are not certain anymore, since, as reiterated by civil groups representatives during the Green mission in Turkey, it is often no longer possible to have access to data and even when data are there, to properly disseminate available information. Additionally, recent statements of the Turkish Prime Minister about the borders of Turkey and the Lausanne’s treaty are increasing the tension with the neighbouring countries;
8. We welcome the efforts by Turkey to host 3 Mio refugees –more than the whole EU is hosting. We also note the ongoing difficulties for refugees in Turkey, such as the challenge to put almost 1 Mio children to school and the lack of employment for many refugees. We are worried about the situation at the border to Syria, where people in need of international protection can not enter freely and there are reports of refoulement to Syria. We take note of the fact that the EU and Turkish authorities maintain a positive cooperation at a technical level in the implementation of the support of refugees, with 2,3 billions euros allocated. All measures must be taken within the EU to meet the need of refugees and internally displaced people coming from Turkey. Whilst continuing this support, we call for an end to the EU-Turkey deal, which violates European refugee law;
9. In the light of this situation the EGP:
a. Commits to support and help give visibility and information on the activities of the many Turkish citizens, activists, academic, political, economic and social actors, including our fellow-Green party member and green activists and organisations, which resist the regression of Turkey towards an authoritarian regime, work for an open and democratic society and sustain disadvantaged people and refugees. As friends of the Turkish people and one of the established political families in Europe, together with the Greens/EFA Group in the European Parliament and member parties, we consider also our role to engage in a transparent contact and an open dialogue with the authorities of the Turkey State, when possible and useful to this end;
b. Notes that in all recent conversations and contacts with civil society and political opposition request for a more visible and effective support of the EU institutions to Turkish rule of law and democracy was strongly expressed as well as a clear support for the European Parliament resolution, calling on the Commission and on the Member States to initiate a temporary freeze of the on-going accession negotiations with Turkey, adopted by a large majority on the 24th of November 2016;
c. Stresses that the political dialogue must continue and that our partners in the civil society and opposition need us now more than ever. For a democratic Turkey the doors to the EU must remain open. Completely stopping the EU accession process would therefore send the wrong signal to the government and citizens of Turkey;
d. Considers that accepting such a proposal could encourage the EU and its member states to give up the current ambivalent and ineffective position in relation to the present patent violations of the rule of law by the Turkish government; stresses that the EU political dialogue with Turkey is important and must be maintained;
e. Calls for a halting of the talks to enlarge the existing Customs Union with Turkey, as we believe that this is the wrong time to increase business relations while such severe human rights violations are happening. Stresses that any introduction of the death penalty will need to lead to the ending of accession talks.
f. Calls for the reinstating of the immunity of HDP MP, a fair trial and the release from pre-trial detention of all elected politicians detained.
g. Reiterates that the EU must change its current inadequate policies concerning refugees access and treatment in the EU. The EU should not bow to blackmail of Turkish threats to default on the EU-Turkey deal if it is to regain back its freedom of initiative towards the Turkish government; insists that Member States take their responsibility to formulate a strong and common EU response to the refugee crisis and participate to an ambitious resettlement plan of refugees;
e. Considers in this respect as absolute priorities the speeding up of the already decided reallocation of refugees among EU member states according to the 2015 Juncker plan and a more effective, direct EU support for those countries, cities and communities who are currently engaged in supporting them.
 Including the Ankara protocol
EGP Resolution adopted at Utrecht Council, 20-22 May 2016
(available to download in .pdf in EN)
The institutes and values of Polish democracy are destabilizing due to the new government’s antidemocratic actions. However, these actions are strongly and effectively countered by a strong civic movement, including KOD and others. These movements are an example of a belief in democracy put into action, thus should be supported by all who cherish democracy across the continent. After the democratic elections of last year in which the party Law and Justice won a commanding majority and the government of Beata Szydło was formed, the democratic procedures and institutions were increasingly destabilized.
A major antidemocratic move was the attack on the principal institutions of the state of law, when the Szydło government made an attempt to block the functioning of the Constitutional Court. Primarily, they blocked the appointment of three judges that had been chosen in accordance with the law. After which the governing party introduced an Act aimed at paralyzing the work of the Constitutional Court, for example, through proposed changes that cases be treated in the order of arrival, thus the first complex case would block all others. Additionally, the Szydło government has repeatedly blocked the publication of the decisions of the Constitutional Court in an attempt to stop these decisions from coming into force. The Szydło government has also decided to ignore the critical opinion of the Venice Commission concerning the issues surrounding the Polish Constitutional Court. All this aims to bring about a situation in which the constitutional court would be rendered as an ineffective balance to the government’s power.
Unwelcome developments are also seen with regards to the freedom of media. New laws enabling the new conservative government to appoint the heads of public TV and radio, as well as civil service directors were passed, leading on the PiS takeover of the public media. Massive layoffs of managers and ordinary journalists occurred following the introduction of the law.
The leading party has decided to make political views and a person’s affiliation the principal criteria for civil service directors, therefore, the competition system for recruitment was abolished and all the directors are directly nominated by ministers. As a result, a huge wave of replacements of high officials, directors and middle-level managers has followed in all public institutions.
An extreme violation of women’s right to control their bodies was proposed by the Polish anti-abortion movement and supported by the leader of the governing party and the Prime Minister, which has rightly caused outrage. Poland already has one of the strictest laws on abortion. The proposed full ban on abortion is a great drawback in the fight for gender equality and for personal freedom. However, this is not the only example of the present governing party’s approach which limits women’s rights, as they are also attempting to curb access to emergency contraceptives by changing their status to prescription medication.
Another major issue is connected to the actions aimed at weakening the protection of human rights in Poland. The first move within this field has been cutting the budget of important institutions set up in order to protect such rights, i.e. the Polish Ombudsman, the Chief Labour Inspectorate, the Inspector General for the Protection of Personal Data, the Ombudsman for Children. Additionally, just recently, in the first week of May, Beata Szydło also made the decision to eradicate the Council for the Prevention of Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance, despite the increasingly xenophobic and racist atmosphere in Poland.
The Szydło government attacks the laws and institutions guaranteeing nature conservation, by subordination of the logic of conservation to the logic of forestry and exploitation of natural resources. The Minister of Environment has made the following decisions: he has dismissed the members of the State Council for Nature Conservation, established the National Council of Forestry as an advisory body to the Prime Minister, progressively replaced the directors of national parks by persons subordinated to the leading party and its ideology, issued a shocking decision to kill 40,000 wild boars in the period of reproduction on the eastern borders of Poland, etc. Such policies are contrary to the interest of Polish citizens, future generations and the goal of preserving biodiversity in Europe. The case of the Białowieża Forest, with authorization given for massive logging is particularly shocking, as the primeval forest, protected as a European Natura 2000 area and Unesco world natural heritage site, was a foundational base for biodiversity conservation in Poland.
The ruling party and the government are apparently intent on curbing the development of green energy. Wind energy is the first target. A new draft law on wind energy would not only effectively preempt the possibility of building new wind farms in the country, but also indirectly expropriate the proprietors of the existing installations with new punitive taxes and regulations. Instead of giving more power and enhancing the participation of the local communities in the development of wind power, the new law would effectively disempower them. At the same time, a new law on renewable energies is being prepared by the government, which would cut support for prosumer energy production with great loss for the PV sector. The preferred way to produce “renewable” energy is to be support for so-called “co-burning” of biomass with coal, which is an indirect way to subsidise coal with funds officially intended for support of green energy. This sort of creative accounting has repeatedly been criticised by environmental organizations and experts.
Actions countering democratic procedures are an emerging new trend in Europe, which shows that a cooperative counteraction is necessary in the continent. Yet these counteractions have to be developed on the basis of struggles of pro-democracy forces fighting within the country itself.
The action of the European Commission under the Rule of Law Framework to assess the situation in Poland is a welcome first step. Under the Lisbon Treaty the European Commission must take steps to address any act by a member state that can amount to serious breaches to the values of human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law and respect for human rights by a member state. Moreover, the leaders of the European Union and Poland must also take into deep consideration the opinions and analyses voiced by outside actors like the Venice commission.
The fundamental values of the European Union must be guarded, and the greens must be a leading force in protecting our common values. Europeans Greens are committed to supporting the forces opposing these reactionary visions of Poland and Europe, and to strengthening the green political alternative.