Austria’s National Council passed a resolution on Thursday calling on the government to take all necessary steps to ensure that Turkey complies with its obligations under international law to protect the civilian population and respect human rights in north and east Syria and northern Iraq.
Three opposition parties, the Social Democratic Party (SPÖ), the Freedom Party (FPÖ) and the New Austria and Liberal Forum (NEOS), submitted a joint motion which failed to reach a majority in the Federal Council. However, the resolution they introduced in the National Council, the lower of the two houses, along with the Greens on Thursday was passed by a majority.
A motion, which was the original submission to the Federal Council, is a formal proposal made to the Austrian parliament during a voting session. It is typically used to bring an issue up for discussion or to call for a vote on a particular issue. A resolution is a document that is formally adopted by the Austrian parliament, and it typically expresses an opinion or decision on a particular issue.
With the motion, the three opposition parties had called on the federal government to condemn the ongoing Turkish attacks on Kurdish targets in the north and east of Syria in the strongest possible terms at national, European and international levels.
The federal government and in particular the foreign minister should use every opportunity vis-à-vis official representatives of Turkey to insist on an end to the violent attacks on Kurds and the observance of human rights, the motion said.
Despite the motion being defeated, the ÖVP, SPÖ, NEOS and Greens agreed in the committee on a joint motion for a resolution. The majority of the MPs voted in favour of the resolution and emphasised the need to take a stand against the human rights violations and offensives by Turkey that violate international law, especially in northern Syria. The resolution will now be passed on to the Federal Council for further consideration.
Austria should work to ensure Turkey protects the civilian population, including the Kurdish population, and to protect fundamental and human rights in northern Syria and northern Iraq. The federal government should continue to show commitment to humanitarian support for the civilian population in Syria, Iraq and Turkey, the resolution concludes.
“When will you speak out against the Turkish government, Mr Minister?” asked SPÖ MP Katharina Kucharowits to Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg during the parliamentary session. “Turkey under President [Recep Tayyip] Erdoğan is systematically taking action against the Kurdish population in northern Syria to oust them from the region. It is necessary to take a stand against this.”
Reinhold Lopatka of the ÖVP argued that the lack of status of more than 45 million Kurds led to wars and crises in the region. Stating that both Turkey and Iran persecute the Kurdish people, Lopatka said, “The suffering of the Kurdish people must end. The EU, especially Austria, should put pressure not only on Turkey and Iran, but also on Syria and Iraq, and ensure that the Kurdish people are protected.”