6 July 2017
Brussels, 06/07/2017 – Today, the European Parliament adopted a resolution calling for the suspension of negotiations for Turkey to join the European Union unless the constitutional changes adopted in 2016 are reversed. These changes are deemed incompatible with EU democratic criteria. Parliament also asks the European Commission to suspend pre-accession funds if and when negotiations are suspended.
Turkey is the largest beneficiary of EU assistance worldwide, about € 2.5 billion in aid yearly, not including aid provided by member states. It also receives a total of € 6 billion as part of the 2016 refugee agreement (2016-2018).
In its resolution, the European Parliament details the many areas in which Turkey violates European norms, such as severe restrictions on freedom of expression and freedom of the press, the persecution of alleged conspirators, wholesale repression against the political opposition, widespread political interference in the judicial system, the widespread abuse of the state of emergency, the absence of due process, discrimination against religious minorities, vulnerable groups and of LGBTs, etc.
Parliament also calls upon the Turkish government to respect its legal obligations to protect the heritage of Greeks, Armenians and Assyrians, much of which was destroyed over the past century and calls for the opening of the border between Turkey and Armenia. In 2010, Turkey failed to open its border with Armenia in spite of an agreement signed at the urging of US President Obama.
While expressing its concern regarding the authoritarian drift taking place in Turkey, Parliament also goes out of its way to express its commitment to a partnership with the country. Indeed, it “underlines the strategic importance of good EU-Turkey relations and the high added-value of cooperation” and supports proposals to upgrade the customs agreement between Turkey and the EU. Controversially, Parliament also proposes to invite the Turkish Foreign Minister to take part in meetings of the EU Foreign Affairs Council of Ministers.
Said AGBU Europe’s Nicolas Tavitian: “We welcome the European Parliament’s firm stance. This must be Europe’s last call. Turkey was first accepted as an EU candidate 18 years ago, and it has received more than € 10 billion in grants to help it reform, with little or nothing to show for it. Turkey is today less democratic, has more conflicts with its neighbours and is more repressive than in 1999.”
The resolution adopted by the European Parliament is a response to a report published in 2016 by the European executive branch, the European Commission, on the subject of Turkey’s progress towards EU accession.