Led by S&D MEP Kati Piri, the European Parliament called on EU member states to formally suspend the accession negotiations with Ankara.
Following years of severe political and democratic backsliding, the European Parliament recommended suspending EU accession negotiations with Turkey.
The European Parliament expressed serious concerns about Turkey’s poor track record in upholding human rights, the rule of law, media freedom and the fight against corruption, as well as its all-powerful presidential system.
In a resolution adopted on Wednesday by 370 votes in favour, 109 against with 143 abstentions, MEPs welcomed Turkey’s decision, last year, to lift the state of emergency introduced after the failed coup attempt in 2016. However, they regret that many of the powers granted to the President and executive following the coup attempt remain in place, and continue to limit freedom and basic human rights in the country.
MEPs expressed great concern about the shrinking space for civil society in the country, as a large number of activists, journalists and human rights defenders are currently in jail.
Taking into account the human rights situation and the new Turkish constitution, the European Parliament recommended that the current EU accession negotiations with Turkey be formally suspended.
Parliament stands behind Turkish citizens
Despite the serious situation, MEPs expressed their will to stand behind Turkish citizens, and keep the political and democratic dialogue open, saying; “EU funds must be made available – not via Ankara, but to Turkish civil society – for human rights defenders, students and journalists to promote and protect democratic values and principles.”
Modernising the EU-Turkey Customs Union
MEPs believe that to keep Turkey economically anchored to the EU, the possibility to upgrade the 1995 EU-Turkey Customs Union to include, for example, agriculture and public procurement, must remain an option, but only if there are concrete improvements in the field of democracy, human rights, fundamental freedoms and the rule of law.
Further, MEPs encourage Turkey to fulfil all 72 benchmarks for EU visa liberalisation, to benefit Turkish citizens, particularly students, academics, business representatives and people with family ties in EU countries.
Rapporteur Kati Piri (S&D, NL) 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.”
“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.”
It's a farce to continue these talks with President Erdoğan!@KatiPiri explains why the European Parliament called for #Turkey's EU accession talks to be formally suspended ➜https://t.co/QYMtv99ZMP pic.twitter.com/0X0LodtcU3
— S&D Group (@TheProgressives) March 13, 2019