Today the foreign affairs committee voted its annual report on Turkey, drafted by S&D MEP Kati Piri, in which European Parliamentarians called on the member states to formally suspend the accession negotiation with Ankara, due to a stark regression in the area of the rule of law and human rights in the country during the last few years. At the same time however, the report expresses the will to keep bridges with the citizens of Turkey and continue to provide support to civil society.
The last European Parliament report on Turkey set a clear red line: if the constitutional reform package, including the expansion of the president’s powers were to be implemented unchanged, then Turkey’s EU accession talks should be suspended without delay. This unfortunately has happened.
The procedure for suspending EU accession negotiations, sets out in Article 5 of the Negotiating Framework for Turkey stipulates that “in the case of a serious and persistent breach in Turkey of the principles of liberty, democracy, respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms and the rule of law on which the Union is founded, the Commission will, on its own initiative or on the request of one third of the Member States, recommend the suspension of negotiations and propose the conditions for eventual resumption.”
“The rapid decline of the rule of law in Turkey, is also reflected in the European Parliament’s position on the accession process. With all the flagrant human rights violations, the lack of judicial independence and the implementation of a new constitution missing crucial checks and balances, it makes no sense to continue talks on EU membership with the current government. When a candidate country crosses key red lines, there should also be political consequences,” said S&D MEP and European Parliament rapporteur on Turkey Kati Piri.
“This does not mean we want to close all doors to Turkey. The EU must do its utmost to support civil society, journalists and human rights defenders. The door to modernise the existing customs union must remain open, as long as the respect for fundamental rights is a key conditionality. And once all the technical criteria have been fully met, visa free travel for Turkish citizens must be made possible,” she concluded.