2nd Jun 2020

EU opinion on Kurdish rebels could hit raw nerve in Turkey

  • Turkish nationalists could misread the legal opinion as pro-PKK feeling, a diplomat said (Photo: EUobserver)

EU courts in Luxembourg could in Spring 2007 restart hearings on whether Brussels was wrong to brand the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) as terrorists, following legal advice that could hit a raw nerve in EU-Turkey relations.

"The Court of First Instance should not have dismissed the application against the inclusion of the PKK on a list of terrorist organisations," the court's advocate general Juliane Kokott said on Wednesday (27 February). "[It] will therefore still have to decide whether it was correct to include the PKK on that list."

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

The advocate general's opinion is not legally-binding but is usually followed by the EU courts, with EU judges set to give a formal verdict on the admissibility of the PKK appeal around January next year, potentially paving the way for fresh PKK-terror list hearings in March.

The PKK was set up in the 1970s to form an independent Kurdish state in the ethnic-Kurdish region of southeast Turkey, with Ankara blaming it for 30,000 deaths since 1984 and holding its leader - Abdullah Ocalan - for life in jail on an island in the Sea of Marmara.

European pressure groups such as Amnesty International have heaped blame on both Ankara and the PKK for killings and human rights abuses in the past, while the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg upheld its decision in May 2005 that Mr Ocalan did not get a fair trial in 1999.

A Turkish diplomat told EUobserver that "the [PKK] opinion is a legal not a political issue, which doesn't touch on the substance of the case" but he admitted it could be "badly received" in the popular Turkish press, with Turkish foreign minister Abdullah Gul considering issuing a statement on the topic on Thursday.

The legal opinion comes on the same day as MEPs voted through a report criticising Turkey on democratic standards in a move set to annoy Turkish nationalist groups such as the Union of Lawyers, who see the EU as trying to weaken the Turkish state.

It also comes in the context of falling public support for Turkey's EU accession on both sides of the Bosphorus, with the latest surveys showing 39 percent support inside the EU and just 35 percent of Turks saying they "trust" the bloc.

Terror list gripes

The EU put the PKK on its list of terrorist entities in 2002 in a move that carries political stigma as well as obliging EU member states to freeze PKK financial assets and block any funds from being channelled to the group.

The PKK's appeal against the decision - thrown out in February 2005 - was complicated by the fact the PKK split up into various branches with new names such as KGK, HSK, KHK and KADEK between 2003 and 2005.

The EU's terror list has recently caused controversy in other areas, with the addition of Sri Lanka's "Tamil Tigers" in May leading to the expulsion of Nordic EU peace-brokers from the island, and with the inclusion of Hamas complicating EU humanitarian aid payments to Palestine.

EU to publish new enlargement method

EU hopefuls will know more about the hoops they will have to jump through in future when the European Commission publishes its new "enlargement methodology" this week.

News in Brief

  1. Trump threatens to use army to crush unrest in US
  2. Trump wants Russia back in G7-type group
  3. Iran: Fears of second wave as corona numbers rise again
  4. WHO: Overuse of antibiotics to strengthen bacterial resistance
  5. Orban calls EU Commission recovery plan 'absurd'
  6. ABBA's Björn new president of authors' rights federation
  7. Malta and Libya to create anti-migrant 'units'
  8. France reopening bars and parks next week

EU to publish new enlargement method

EU hopefuls will know more about the hoops they will have to jump through in future when the European Commission publishes its new "enlargement methodology" this week.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDAHow reducing sugar and calories in soft drinks makes the healthier choice the easy choice
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersGreen energy to power Nordic start after Covid-19
  3. European Sustainable Energy WeekThis year’s EU Sustainable Energy Week (EUSEW) will be held digitally!
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic states are fighting to protect gender equality during corona crisis
  5. UNESDACircularity works, let’s all give it a chance
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers call for post-corona synergies between economic recovery and green transition

Latest News

  1. Malta fiddles on migrants, as Libya burns
  2. Borrell: EU doesn't need to choose between US and China
  3. Post-Brexit and summer travel talks This WEEK
  4. State-level espionage on EU tagged as 'Very High Threat'
  5. Beethoven vs Virus: How his birthplace Bonn is coping
  6. EU's new migration pact must protect people on the move
  7. Spain takes 'giant step' on guaranteed minimum income
  8. Vestager hits back at Lufthansa bailout criticism

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us