The European Parliament has recommended negotiations over Turkey’s accession to the EU be suspended over the country’s poor track record on EU values.
MEPs agreed on a resolution welcoming the end of the state of emergency first declared in Turkey in 2016 after an alleged attempted coup; however, the resolution went on to denounce the level of post-coup power still held by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his government. MEPs highlighted the lack of freedom and human rights granted to Turkish residents, expressing concern over the “shrinking space for civil society” and the number of activists, campaigners and journalists jailed by the Erdoğan regime.
Rapporteur Kati Piri said: “If the EU takes its own values seriously, no other conclusion is possible than to formally suspend the talks on EU integration. Our repeated calls to respect fundamental rights have fallen on deaf ears in Ankara. On top of the severe human rights violations, the dismantling of the rule of law and the fact that Turkey holds the world record for the number of journalists in jail, the recently amended constitution consolidates Erdoğan’s authoritarianism.”
Negotiations on potential accession for Turkey into the EU, its largest trading partner, began in 2005; the resolution recommended these negotiations be suspended over Turkey’s new constitution and ongoing human rights situation, neither of which were seen to align with the inherent values of the EU. The resolution included a pledge by MEPs to continue to support Turkish citizens and promote democratic values by channelling EU funding to human rights activists, reporters and students; and urged Turkey to work towards the EU’s 72 benchmarks for visa liberalisation.
Piri added: “I realize that stopping the accession talks is not a step which will help Turkey’s democrats. For that, the EU leaders must use all possible tools to exert more pressure on the Turkish government. The Parliament, therefore, calls for dedicated funds to be made available to support civil society, journalists and human rights defenders in Turkey. In addition, modernising the customs union must remain conditional on clear improvements in the field of human rights. And more efforts must be put into people-to-people exchange programmes.”