News & Media

Government should seek EU sanctions against Turkey

10 October 2019

Statement by Brendan Howlin TD
Party Leader and Spokesperson on Foreign Affairs and Northern Ireland

Reacting to the situation in North Syria, and to yesterday’s statement by the Minister for Foreign Affairs, the leader of the Labour Party, Brendan Howlin TD, called on the government to seek sanctions against Turkey at next week’s European Council meeting.

Deputy Howlin said:

“Military action by Turkey against the Kurdish people in Syria is unjustified and is a serious breach of international law. It is not enough for our Minister for Foreign Affairs to say he is ‘deeply troubled’ by the launch of this military operation. The government must push for action at EU level to dissuade Turkey from the course of action.

“Already, people have died in Turkish air strikes and if the Turkish advance into North Syria is allowed to proceed, this will have major humanitarian ramifications. Part of the Turkish action seems to be designed to destabilise Rojava, the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria, as part of hostility by the Turkish government under President Erdogan to its own Kurdish ethnic minority and to Kurdish movements for national recognition.

“Due to Turkey’s military aggression, many more people may be killed, and hundreds of thousands may be displaced. Turkey’s aim is to establish a refugee area for up to two million Syrians, many of whom will be displaced from Turkey.

“All of these actions breach the agreement reached between the EU and Turkey in relation to the humanitarian reception and assistance for Syrian refugees, for which the EU has earmarked payment to Turkey of six billion euro.

“It is an appalling breach of trust for the United States to abandon allies who were on the frontline in the fight against ISIS in North Syria, and this has been recognised by lawmakers, including leading Republicans who have called for punitive personal financial sanctions on leaders of the Turkish government, including President Erdogan.

“The European Union needs to step into the breach to uphold human rights and international law. Turkey is an important trading partner with the EU, and that gives us leverage to dissuade them from this action. The EU should at least match the sanctions being proposed in the US, and should threaten to place major trade sanctions on Turkey if it persists with this violence.

“I call on Leo Varadkar, as Taoiseach, to formally condemn Turkey’s actions and to bring a resolution to the European Council next week to impose sanctions on Turkey in response to their military aggression.”