EU-Turkey relations need to be redefined
Foreign Affairs MEPs recommend to suspend EU accession talks with Turkey and stress that EU-Turkey relations must be redefined in terms of an effective partnership.
Foreign Affairs Committee MEPs remain seriously concerned about Turkey’s poor track record in upholding human rights, the rule of law, media freedom and the fight against corruption. In a resolution adopted on Wednesday, they welcome 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 still remain in place, and effectively continue to limit freedom and basic human rights in the country.
After years of severe political and democratic backsliding, MEPs recommend that the EU accession negotiations with Turkey be formally suspended and the current EU-Turkey relations redefined in terms of an effective partnership.
EU funds, however, must still be available to support Turkish civil society, human rights defenders and students.
The text was adopted by 47 votes in favour, 7 against with 10 abstentions.
Crackdown on dissent, kidnappings abroad, war in Syria
The resolution expresses deep concern over Turkish dismissals, arrests and the imprisonment of thousands of people following the coup attempt, including a large number of legitimate voices of dissent such as journalists, lawyers, human rights activists and opposition politicians.
MEPs also raise the alarm about Turkish government actions against its own citizens abroad, including harassment, kidnappings, covert surveillance and setting up hotlines through which people are encouraged to report other citizens to the authorities back home.
Regarding the war in Syria, the text recalls Turkey’s important role in responding to the migration crisis resulting from the conflict, but expresses concern over reports of a wide range of violations carried out by Turkey-backed armed groups in Syria’s northern Afrin region, which has a significant Kurdish population.
MEPs also remain deeply worried by continued allegations of widespread human rights abuses in Turkey’s southeastern parts, also home to many Kurds and a stronghold for the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), classified by the EU as a terrorist organisation.
MEPs finally welcome the efforts under the auspices of the UN Secretary-General to resume negotiations on the reunification of Cyprus. They reiterate their support for a fair and viable settlement based on a “bi-communal, bi-zonal federation with a single international legal personality, single sovereignty and single citizenship with political equality between the two communities”.
Turkey must also begin withdrawing its troops from Cyprus, transfer the sealed-off area of Famagusta to the UN and refrain from altering the demographic balance on the island through illegal settlements.
The resolution will be voted on by the full House during the March I plenary session in Strasbourg.