European Parliament calls for suspension of Turkey’s accession negotiations


ISTANBUL – In the latest sign of strained relations between European nations and Ankara, the European Parliament on Wednesday called for the suspension of negotiations for Turkey’s membership of the European Union unless current negative trends are “reversed from urgently and systematically ”.

In his very critical Turkey 2019-2020 Report, the EP cited a continued deterioration of democratic and institutional standards in Turkey as well as “aggressive foreign policy measures, including illegal actions against EU member states”, as grounds for recommending the formal suspension of negotiations on membership which began in 2005 and has since stalled. in the midst of political turmoil.

“The Turkish government has unfortunately increasingly and rapidly distanced itself from the values ​​of the EU and its normative framework, contrary to what is expected of a candidate country,” says the report, which was adopted. Wednesday with 480 votes for, 64 against and 150 abstentions.

Turkey’s Foreign Ministry rejected the findings in a statement Wednesday, condemning the report as a “biased text” which includes “false allegations. “

“The stalemate in Turkey’s accession negotiations is not due to Turkey’s unwillingness to reform… but rather to the fact that some circles have exploited the accession process as an opportunity for political gains against Turkey ever since. the start of this process, ”The Foreign Ministry said in its statement.

The EP report paints a grim picture of recent developments in Turkey, highlighting the democratic setback in the form of state pressure on opposition groups and independent media, as well as the consolidation of government powers under the established executive presidency in 2018. Its tone contrasts with that of the positive agenda based on closer trade relations and reduced tensions in the Eastern Mediterranean, reaffirmed by the European Council at a summit in March and calls for a reassessment of bilateral relations in order to better align with EU principles.

Among the topics highlighted in the report is the ongoing detention of Turkish philanthropist Osman Kavala, whose next track begins on Friday despite several European Court of Human Rights rulings calling for his immediate release. We also note the continued crackdown on Turkey’s second largest opposition party, the pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party, and the arrest in April of party deputy Omer Faruk Gergerlioglu after being removed from his parliamentary seat. for terrorism-related charges.

Members of the European Parliament also condemned Turkey’s recent withdrawal from the Istanbul Convention, a European treaty aimed at preventing violence against women, and the conversion last July of the Hagia Sophia to Istanbul in mosque.

EP rapporteur for Turkey Nacho Sanchez Amor said Wednesday that the report was the most critical of recent years and “reflected what has been the worst period” in contemporary relations between the EU and Turkey. In a video posted on Twitter, Amor urged Ankara officials to back statements aimed at warming bilateral ties with concrete actions.

“These latest statements on Turkey’s rapprochement with the EU, according to which Turkey is heading towards the EU’s neighborhood, must be reinforced by actions, not just by programs or by words or declarations”, Amor said on Wednesday, adding that Turkish citizens “are being slaughtered. by public policies that go against any form of criticism. The EP will always be with Turkish society. “

In November, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Ankara was actively pursuing economic and judicial reforms and seeking to strengthen cooperation with Western allies through diplomacy.

See you in Europe, not anywhere else; we are looking to build our future with Europe, ”Erdogan said during a speech in November.

Ilke Toygur, European affairs analyst at the Royal Elcano Institute and researcher at the German Institute for International and Security Affairs, said last year had been “exceptionally difficult” for EU-Turkey relations. She noted that the report contained clauses not only from Ankara’s usual opponents such as Greece, the Republic of Cyprus and France, but also from Austria and Sweden, underlining a stronger stance from EU member states. the EU towards Turkey.

“The report and its presentation are another demonstration of the growing differences of opinion between the EU institutions,” Toygur told Al-Monitor. “While the European Parliament calls for treating Turkey as a candidate country and calls for democratic conditionality for any positive development, the European Council has already proposed a positive program with improvements in the Eastern Mediterranean.”

Toygur noted that the recommendation was not binding, adding that the former EP Turkey rapporteur, Kati Piri, had made the same petition in it. 2019 report.

“I see this as a continuation of the trend,” Toygur told Al-Monitor. “This time, however, the tone grew tougher.”

In addition to seeking to improve the rule of law, fundamental rights and freedoms in Turkey, the report also included a clause calling on member states to consider the possibility of adding “the racist far-right movement Ulkucu, known as the name “Gray Wolves”, on the EU terrorist list. The ultranationalist group, which is linked to Erdogan’s ruling coalition partner, the Nationalist Movement Party, was seen to be spreading across Turkey and EU states, prompting contributors to the report to suggest a ban on their organizations within the bloc and increased monitoring of group activities. , defined in the report as “particularly threatening for people of Kurdish, Armenian or Greek origin and for anyone they consider to be an opponent”.

Turkey’s foreign ministry on Wednesday issued a separate statement to specifically address the gray wolves clause, condemning measures against what it claims to be a “legal move” as “a case of mental slip”.

“Racism and fascism are concepts that belong to western political jargon, and this political line should not be confused with the perception of nationalism in Turkey, ”the ministry said in its statement.


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