Relations between the EU and Türkiye have deteriorated to such an extent that the EU needs to re-evaluate them in their entirety, as highlighted by the plenary session of the European Parliament in a report adopted on Wednesday with 480 votes in favor, 64 against and 150 abstentions.
In recent years, the Turkish Government has distanced itself more and more from the European values and standards. As a result, relations have reached the lowest point in their history, warn MEPs, who are especially concerned about the rule of law and respect for fundamental rights.
The text approved by the European Parliament insists that, if Turkey does not change this negative trend, the Commission should recommend the formal suspension of accession negotiations. The European Parliament criticizes Turkey’s regressive institutional reforms and shows concern about the “authoritarian interpretation of the presidential system”. The text points to the lack of independence of the judiciary and the “hypercentralization of power in the presidency.”
MEPs call on the Turkish authorities to release all human rights defenders, journalists, lawyers, academics and others detained by the Government on unfounded charges.
There is also concern about the hostile foreign policy Turkish government, including actions against Greece and Cyprus, as well as its involvement in the conflicts in Syria, Libya and Nagorno-Karabakh, as they clash directly with EU priorities. The EP reiterates its call for Turkey to recognize the Armenian genocide, as it would pave the way for true reconciliation between the Turkish and Armenian peoples.
The Chamber is convinced that Turkey is a key partner for stability in the region and, therefore, values the EU’s diplomatic efforts in pursuit of a true and effective dialogue with the country. The text recalls that Türkiye continues to play an important role hosting almost four million refugees, of whom approximately 3.6 million are Syrian, and recognizes that challenges have increased due to the covid-19 pandemic. It commends the Turkish effort in this area and encourages the EU to continue providing the necessary support to Syrian refugees and host communities in Turkey. MEPs emphasize, however, that it is unacceptable to use migrants and refugees as a tool of political influence and blackmail.
The European Parliament also emphasizes that the diverse and committed Turkish society is one of the few controls remaining on the power of the government and encourages the Commission to continue to financially support Turkish civil society organisations.
According to Nacho Sánchez Amor (S&D, Spain), rapporteur of the text, this “is probably the harshest report to date in its criticism of Turkey. It reflects everything that has unfortunately happened in the country in the last two years, especially in the area of human rights and the rule of law, which continue to be the most worrying element for the EP, and in its relations with the EU and its Member states”. “We hope that Türkiye change course and turn the latest declarations of goodwill into facts. “We urge the other EU institutions to condition any positive progress on democratic reform,” he said.