“A close and privileged relationship between the EU and Turkey is in the interest of both sides. But this can only be realized if it is based on human rights, the respect of the fundamental freedoms, democratic values and the rule of law. Turkey accepted this when it became a candidate for EU membership in 1999. But the developments in recent years, which culminated in the Turkish Constitutional Referendum last April, have shown that this country’s EU bid has no future. This is why we are now calling to formally suspend the accession talks”, said Renate Sommer MEP, after today’s vote on the 2016 European Commission report on Turkey in the European Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee. The suspension was supported by all political Groups in the European Parliament.
“The April referendum on shifting to an executive presidential system was the last straw that broke the camel’s back”, explained the EPP Group standing Rapporteur on Turkey, Renate Sommer, referring to the Venice Commission findings. “The constitutional changes are incompatible with the Copenhagen criteria, which are the non-negotiable basis for membership of the European Union. We consequently call to formally suspend the accession negotiations if the constitutional reform package is implemented unchanged. This procedure provides that the pre-accession funding has to be stopped simultaneously.”
If this scenario unfolds, Sommer demands the use of those funds to directly support the civil society and refugees in Turkey. “The country has already been run down by its President and is urgently dependent on the EU’s flow of funds. Therefore we demand the redirection of the IPA funds to use them exclusively to support civil society and improve the situation of the refugees in Turkey.”
Nevertheless, the report calls for a deepening of EU-Turkey relations in key areas of joint interest. “Everybody knows that we need to work together in the future as well, and the best idea would be to improve the customs union. But that is not a low-hanging fruit either. We are demanding conditionality provisions for the respect of democracy, the rule of law and fundamental rights”, Sommer underlined.
“All in all, we must criticise the Rapporteur for delaying the own-initiative Report to this date, after the Turkish constitutional referendum”, said Sommer, adding that it would have made much more sense if the European Parliament had already clearly pointed out the effects and consequences of the proposed constitutional amendments before the referendum in April. “Then the Turkish voters would have known in time that a “yes” to the presidential system meant a clear denial of the country’s EU candidacy.”
“The Turkish government has deceived its own citizens. It is all the more important now to clarify that the Turkish side is solely responsible for the upcoming suspension of EU accession negotiations. But I am sure that the Turkish government will again find an excuse to send back our own-initiative Report unopened and unread”, Sommer concluded.