Statement by Minister for Foreign Affairs Margot Wallström on the developments in Turkey

In light of the current debate, I would like to present the Government's views concerning the developments in Turkey.

The Government often calls attention to Turkey's human rights violations in the forums where we believe that results have the greatest chance of being achieved, such as in the EU and the Council of Europe. We call attention to the situation of human rights defenders, civil society actors and others, and work to ensure that EU Member States continue to act together so that respect for human rights and the rule of law in Turkey is restored. Sweden also provides assistance to strengthen the capacity of civil society, the media and other agents of change in Turkey. Another important task for Sweden's reform support is to ensure that gender equality issues receive greater political priority and that the double vulnerability of women human rights defenders is highlighted.

Ever since Ali Gharavi and nine other people were arrested and imprisoned, the Ministry for Foreign Affairs has worked tirelessly on the case. Our actions are always guided by what we believe is best for the Swede and his fellow prisoners.

I would like to report on some of the political and diplomatic steps we have taken. Our Consulate-General in Istanbul is in touch with Ali Gharavi's lawyer and went to the trial earlier this week, which however was held behind closed doors.
The Swedish Embassy in Ankara has demanded to visit him in prison. We have also had meetings with Turkish representatives, both in Ankara and the Turkish Embassy in Stockholm. The State Secretary for Foreign Affairs has also met with Gharavi's relatives and is in close contact with them, as the Ministry for Foreign Affairs always is in consular cases.

One of the people detained is a German citizen, and we are cooperating closely with Germany. I spoke yesterday with my German colleague and decided that we would express our criticism and our demands together to the Turkish Government in Ankara. The Government also communicates that the EU, in its dialogue with Turkey, address the case of Gharavi and the other detained human rights activists and journalists. We will also take every opportunity for discussions between the EU and Turkey, on both these specific issues and the general human rights situation in the country. We have also raised these cases in the OSCE. The work in the Council of Europe, of which Turkey is a Member State, is also key.

In our contacts with Turkish representatives as well, we will continue to present our messages with regard to developments in Turkey, particularly concerning respect for human rights and the rule of law. We have being doing this for some time and intend to continue to do so as long as necessary. Open and good dialogue with Turkey is essential to successfully convey our messages.

Ali Gharavi and his colleagues have now been detained for more than two weeks. Unless the grounds for the charges can be clarified, I expect Turkey to release them as soon as possible.