Last year saw massive protests by citizens calling for the protection of one of the few green spaces in Istanbul – the Gezi Park protests. These protests carried a far deeper message than just protecting trees. It reflected the desire for more democracy in Turkey, the right of citizens to define their living space, the right to protest. It was a call for the protection of civil rights. Our Turkish partner Yesiller ve Sol Gelecek Partisi played its part in these protests and is eager to discuss these and other relevant issues that play a role in the Turkish political context in Turkey.
As we look towards Europe's future, this Council will focus on key issues for the Greens: democracy, the future of Europe, and energy and energy security in view of the COP21 in Paris in 2015. The political landscape in Europe has changed, and populist challenges against immigration and enlargement have increased. Our council meeting is an opportunity to meet these arguments head on, and put forward our vision for what Europe could be.
The future of Ukraine, Russia and its neighbors, conflicts in the wider region and the current surge of violence in Gaza and Israel are further topics for an in depth discussion at the Council.
Along with Turkish civil society, we will co-organise workshops and visits, with groups working on civil rights and democracy, women's organisations, LGBTI rights, groups working with Syrian refugees and sustainable urban development organisations.
After the European Elections, we look forward to introducing our new MEPs and learning about the political priorities of the Green Group. We will present our own Green answers together, and present our vision for a fairer, more equal, more ecological Europe.
We are very much looking forward to meeting you in Istanbul. So, please register online, mark 7–9 of November in your calendar, and book your train or flight immediately!