European Court of Justice announces its decision on PKK

The European Court of Justice announced its ruling concerning the PKK's removal from the terror list. The Court referred the 2018 verdict back to the General Court on the grounds that sufficient arguments were not presented.

The Court of Justice of the European Union overturned a verdict on PKK dated 15 November 2018, which the EU had appealed, and referred it back to the General Court.

The Court did not make any statement regarding the content of the list and concluded that there were deficiencies in the General Court's decision.

The decision taken by the Court concerns the reasons presented by the General Court.


According to the Court of Justice, the General Court did not provide sufficient justification for the terror list. On this basis, 13 more of the 14-point decision made by the General Court in PKK’s favor are wanted justified.

According to Mahmut Şakar, one of the lawyers who have followed the case from the beginning, this decision does not mean an approval that the PKK will remain on the list.

Şakar pointed out that even if the General Court decision is overturned, this would mainly concern the decision-making process and the General Court could be appealed with stronger arguments.

According to Şakar, the General Court took the decision in November 2018 by reviewing only one justification out of 7 presented by the Kurdish side. It found one article sufficient to leave the PKK out of the list.

All the remaining arguments will be brought to the agenda again with the recent decision of the Court of Justice.


KCK Executive Council member Zübeyir Aydar stated that they are still examining the content of the decision and said, “The High Chamber found some procedural deficiencies. Anyway, we wanted the issue to be dealt with in a more comprehensive way before the courts. We want a broader discussion of whether the issue is terrorism or a national movement, or whether the Kurds have the right to defend themselves against the Turkish state, as in the Belgian court's decision. We think that the General Court will deal with the issue in a better way.”

Aydar added, “I hope that the process will result in our favor in the future. It is a legal struggle.”


In 2014, PKK executives Murat Karayılan and Duran Kalkan filed a lawsuit against the European Union terror list in Luxembourg through their Dutch lawyers. The court announced its ruling on November 15, 2018. The European Court of Justice found the reasons of the UK, which was the party making claims on behalf of the EU between 2014-2017, inadequate and decided that the PKK could not be kept on the list for the mentioned reasons. However, the EU appealed the decision.

After the decision of the Court, Britain filed a new application to keep the PKK on the list for 2018, and the PKK was automatically put on the list on January 9, 2019. The same arguments were put forward to include the PKK on the list. In principle, the list is updated every six months, but sometimes it also takes two years. The Kurdish side filed a lawsuit against the new list on March 7, 2019. Currently, there are three pending cases over the PKK in Luxembourg.


While the EU automatically put the PKK on the list once again, the Belgian judiciary made a historic decision regarding the PKK. On March 8, 2019, the Court of Cassation ruled that the PKK carries out a "non-international armed conflict" and “is not a terrorist organization".