Without clear and significant progress in EU-related reforms, Parliament cannot envisage resuming accession negotiations with Turkey, warn MEPs in a report adopted on Thursday.
In a report adopted on Thursday by 54 votes in favour, 7 against and 13 abstentions, MEPs warn that in spite of Turkey’s repeated declarations on the objective of EU accession, over the past two years the country has consistently gone back on its commitments in relation to the accession process.
Recently, there has been a slight improvement in overall EU-Turkey relations, says the report. In particular, MEPs welcome the recent high-level dialogues and call for the suspended high-level political dialogue as well as a number of other sectoral dialogues to be unblocked. However, this enhanced cooperation has unfortunately coexisted alongside regular conflicts, as relations with neighbouring EU member states remain challenging, stress MEPs.
The report points to the continued deterioration of the human rights situation in Turkey. MEPs also regret the sustained legal and administrative pressure that the Turkish government is putting on civil society and human rights defenders, lawyers and journalists. They call on the Commission to provide, through relevant financial instruments, sufficient funding for pro-democracy efforts in Turkey.
Importance of close EU-Turkey cooperation in foreign and security policy
Welcoming Turkey’s willingness to act as a mediator in the Russian war against Ukraine, MEPs stress the vital importance of good EU-Turkey cooperation in foreign and security policy in the current challenging times and welcome Turkey’s firm alignment with NATO and the EU.
The report commends Turkey’s efforts to continue hosting the largest refugee population in the world, and welcomes the continued provision of EU funding for refugees and host communities in Turkey. MEPs express their commitment to sustain this support in the future.
MEPs also support the Commission’s proposal to start negotiations to update a mutually beneficial Customs Union, warning however that Parliament would only support the final agreement on modernising the Customs Union when necessary democratic conditions on human rights and fundamental freedoms, respect of international law and good neighbourly relations are met.
MEPs conclude that the Parliament cannot at this stage justify modifying its position concerning the formal suspension of the accession negotiations with Turkey, which have effectively been at a standstill since 2018. By openly defying the binding rulings of the European Court of Human Rights in relation to the case of Osman Kavala and others, the current Turkish Government has deliberately demolished any aspirations of reopening the EU accession process at this time, say MEPs.
The rapporteur Nacho Sanchez Amor (S&D, ES) said : "This report shows a sharp contrast between a relative improvement in the contact between the EU and Turkey in recent months and a disastrous situation in fundamental rights and rule of law that continues deteriorating, as shown by the recent ruling on Kavala’s case. Turkey’s position in crucial geopolitical affairs cannot be an alibi to further deepen the authoritarian trend in the country."
Following the committee vote, the report will be tabled for a vote in one of the next plenary sessions.
*Source: European Parliament