Schulz on the EU-Turkey Summit
Following meetings today with Prime Minister Davutoğlu, Presidents Juncker and Tusk, and the 28 EU Prime Ministers and heads of state, President Schulz made the following statement:
"Turkey and the EU are key partners. But our partnership needs to be built on mutual trust and straight-talking.
Turkey is to be praised for the huge and continued effort it is undertaking concerning Syrian and Iraqi refugees.
After many failed opportunities to tackle the refugee and migration situation, we need a game-changer.
It must be clear that in our relationship Turkey needs the EU and the EU needs Turkey. This is not a one way street. Certainly, the EU is confronting an unprecedented refugee and migration crisis. But this is also true for Turkey, and on this our cooperation is essential. Tackling smugglers and illegal immigration networks must be a priority for both the EU and Turkey. Readmission is one central piece of this jigsaw.
The intended acceleration in implementing the EU-Turkey Action Plan is ambitious but not unfeasible.
One path to achieve this objective is the ongoing Visa Liberalisation Dialogue. The European Parliament as co-legislator is ready to play its role to the maximum to contribute to a successful outcome in the next months. The Parliament’s procedures, established to ensure full scrutiny, must be respected. To act in due time, we need a Commission proposal which is only possible after the Turkish Parliament has adopted a large number of reform laws.
Turkey is not just a key political and economic partner of the EU. It is a candidate country. It is a welcome development that the accession process has been restarted: this gives an opportunity to restart a dialogue in mutual trust.
It needs to be clear that the accession path and the refugee issue need to be dealt with separately.
Accession must continue to be a merit-based process. In this sense whether we look at the rule of law, the separation of powers, the freedom of the press, respect for Turkish institutions, the thorny issues must not be avoided.
On this line, I have particularly raised the strong concerns of the European Parliament regarding the alarming developments on media freedom in the country, such as the measures against the newspaper Zaman over the weekend.
The European Union firmly condemns the terrorist attacks which have been perpetrated in Turkey against civilians and authorities. It must be clear that the EU considers the PKK a terrorist organisation. This issue is not up for discussion.
But the European Union and an overwhelming majority of members in the European Parliament, from across the political spectrum, are truly worried about the situation in the South-East of the country. I raised these concerns in my exchange with the Turkish Prime Minister. I announced that I intend to send an official delegation of the European Parliament on the request of several political groups, and defended the full independence of the Parliament’s Standing rapporteur on Turkey. Over the last 20 years Turkey and the European Parliament have built a long standing working relationship and it is important that this continues in mutual trust and respect.
The peace process has to restart. The increasing tension and violence in the South-East further destabilises an already turbulent region. We need to step back from the spiral of violence and seek dialogue among those who seek peace. ”
Video Statement of President Schulz after meeting with Prime Minister Davutoğlu.