Pace of reforms in Turkey has not only slowed down but also regressed in key areas
Turkey: need of urgent reforms in key areas, say MEPs
14-04-2016 – EU-Turkey cooperation on migration should be uncoupled from the EU accession negotiating process, say MEPs in a resolution voted on Thursday. [Full debate & vote] MEP praise Turkey for hosting the largest refugee population in the world, and note that it remains a “key strategic partner for the EU” but nonetheless call for progress on rule of law and fundamental values and “a structured and more frequent political dialogue on key thematic issues”.
“The overall pace of reforms in Turkey has not only slowed down but in some key areas, such as freedom of expression and the independence of the judiciary, there has been a regression, which is particularly worrying”, said rapporteur Kati Piri (S&D, NL). In this report “we also express our concern about the escalation of violence in the southeast of Turkey, which caused almost 400,000 people to leave their houses”, she added.
“Outsourcing the refugee crisis to Turkey is not a credible long-term solution to the problem”, say MEPs who add that “it is crucial to put in place safe and legal routes for refugees”. They believe that the EU-Turkey Joint Action Plan on refugees and migration management should be implemented immediately, but only as “part of a comprehensive cooperation agenda based on shared responsibility, mutual commitments and delivery”. Furthermore, “EU-Turkey cooperation on migration should not be linked to the calendar, content and conditionality of the negotiation process”. “Only a political solution to the Syrian crisis can provide a lasting response to this humanitarian crisis”, says the text.
The resolution was passed by 375 votes to 133, with 87 abstentions.
Serious backsliding on fundamental freedoms
MEPs urge Turkey to act against intimidation of journalists in all its forms, condemn its violent and illegal take-over of several newspapers including Zaman most recently and highlight its serious backsliding, over the past two years, on freedom of speech, expression and opinion, both on-line and off-line.
To match the EU’s commitment to the rule of law and fundamental values, which are core European values, reforms of the judiciary and fundamental rights and of justice, freedom and security are urgently needed in Turkey, says the text.
Kurdish peace process
MEPs call for an immediate ceasefire in southeast Turkey and the resumption of the peace process. They urge the Turkish government to shoulder its responsibility to resume negotiations for a negotiated, comprehensive and sustainable solution to the Kurdish issue. The Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), on the EU’s list of terrorist organisations, should lay down its arms, abandon terrorist tactics and use peaceful and legal means to voice its expectations, they add.
Cyprus reunification talks
Welcoming the considerable progress made in the Cyprus reunification talks, MEPs pledge support for the evolution of the Republic of Cyprus into “a bi-communal, bi-zonal federation with political equality between the two communities and equal opportunities for all its citizens”. They urge both parties to implement all agreed measures without further delay, emphasing that non-settlement of the Cyprus issue affects the development of EU-Turkey relations. [Source]
Turkey should align itself with EU values so accession process can speed up
Strasbourg, 14 April 2016 – European Socialists and Democrats stress the importance of today’s adoption, by the European Parliament, of the progress report on Turkey, and consider that the negotiation process must continue and be accelerated. The Group underlines the need for more democracy, especially in the areas of freedom of expression, freedom of media, the rule of law and the rights of minorities. S&Ds call on Turkish authorities to fully adopt European values and the Copenhagen criteria.
S&D MEP and EP rapporteur on Turkey, Kati Piri, said:
“Today the EU and Turkey are facing many of the same challenges and we need each other in order to find joint solutions. But the backsliding in the rule of law and media freedom in Turkey will have to stop and reforms resumed. We believe that Turkey has to return to a path where journalists are not imprisoned for doing their job, where academics don’t lose their jobs for expressing their views and where judges do not hesitate to rule due to fear of being displaced or fired.
“The situation in the South East of Turkey is of great concern to us. We call for the settlement process to be re-launched as there is no military solution for the Kurdish question. Regarding migration, we praise the Turkish citizens for hosting the largest refugee population in the world. It is time that the EU engages in genuine burden sharing and starts with a large scale resettlement programme of refugees to EU countries.”
S&D vice-president for foreign affairs, neighbourhood policy and enlargement, Knut Fleckenstein MEP, said:
“We clearly condemn the intimidation of journalists in all its forms, the violent and illegal take-over of several newspapers and highlight the serious backsliding on freedom of speech, expression and opinion over the past two years.
“Turkey, in order to facilitate its accession negotiation process, should fully align itself with European values, principles and criteria.
“A new constitution should improve and guarantee a secular state with full respect of the freedom of expression and rights of minorities.
“We reiterate our call on Turkey to normalise its relations with all EU member states, including the Republic of Cyprus.”
S&D MEP and vice-president for foreign affairs, Victor Boştinaru, said:
“We shall assess today the stalemate of Turkey’s accession to the EU, which, unfortunately, has also contributed to a slowdown in the pace of reforms and in the respect for the rule of law and fundamental values in Turkey. I am deeply worried about the serious deterioration, in the last two years, of the freedom of speech, expression and opinion in the country.
“Therefore, I strongly encourage, yet again, the Council and the Commission to open chapters 23 and 24! Simultaneously, I urge Turkey to continue the reform process; to resolve outstanding bilateral issues with its neighbours and to play a constructive role in the Cyprus negotiations. The success of these negotiations is important for the EU and I believe also for Turkey.
“There is no doubt over the necessity for deepening our cooperation with Turkey in order to solve the current refugee and migration crisis. This being said, I have important concerns about certain aspects of the latest EU-Turkey deal. We have to ensure that the rights of all asylum seekers are well respected in Turkey and in the EU, that both sides are facilitating the work of UNHCR and that article 51 of the Geneva Convention is fully applied.”
EU must re-asses the entire accession process of the country
14/04/2016 – The Turkey progress report for 2015, adopted today by the European Parliament, calls on European Commission and Council to reassess the whole strategy behind the accession process negotiations with Ankara.
ALDE MEP, Alexander Lambsdorff (FDP, Germany), Vice President of the European Parliament and shadow rapporteur on Turkey, questions the opening of new chapters, especially in light of recent domestic developments: “The rule of law, press freedom and freedom of expression are core values of the European family and the liberal group. The Progress report makes this clear. Re-assessing the entire accession process, together with the demand to respect all life-styles, secular or religious, and the refusal to link the negotiation process with the refugee crisis, are among the most important messages to the Turkish government in this report.”
“It is simply unacceptable to open new chapters when, at the same time, freedom of the media in Turkey is being restricted dramatically every day. Instead, Europe and Turkey urgently need an enhanced positive agenda with a focus on energy, foreign policy, civil society dialogue, trade and visa liberalisation. As liberals, we will continue to stand with civil society, helping democratic forces in Turkey to pursue their important work.”
ALDE MEP, Marietje Schaake (D66, The Netherlands), added:
“For political reasons the European Commission delayed its critical report on Turkey. Commissioner Frans Timmermans, one of the main architects of the horse-trade approach to Turkey has even remained completely silent when rights were violated. Meanwhile Turkish papers have illegally been taken over, and journalists have been jailed. The EU should not be trading away values for an uncertain outcome. While we must work with Turkey to ensure refugees are properly sheltered, we must do so on its own merits, and not mix it with accession.”
“Turkey’s respect for the rule of law and democracy are backsliding even further. People all over Europe and Turkey are disappointed in the cynical deal making. I am glad the Parliament rejects this questionable gamble and also calls upon the Commission and Council to reassess its strategy in the negotiations with Turkey.” [Source]
CONCERNS ABOUT SİTUATİON İN SOUTHEAST TURKEY
14/04/2016 – During the debate on the 2015 report on Turkey in the European Parliament last night, GUE/NGL MEPs raised some critical points on the violation of human rights perpetrated by Turkey.
Cypriot MEP, Takis Hadjigeorgiou, Vice-Chair of the EU-Turkey Delegation expressed his concerns about the situation in Southeast Turkey, where some 300,000 people have been displaced.
“A great part of the city of Sur has been completely abandoned. A bigger part has been confiscated. Essentially, the homes of 60,000 people have been expropriated,” he said.
“Furthermore, academics and journalists are in prison because they spoke out openly. On 22 April, they will be on trial in Istanbul and I have already received an appeal from these academics requesting that MEPs be present as observers.”
MEP Hadjigeorgiou called on Turkey to initiate immediately a dialogue to solve the Kurdish issue, saying “We believe the deletion of the PKK (Kurdistan Workers’ Party) from the EU list of terrorist organizations could help”.
On the issue of Cyprus, MEP Hadjigeorgiou said the report contained “very positive references. However, it contains, albeit indirectly, references for the opening of chapters, with which we disagree, as Turkey has not implemented its relevant commitments. While we welcome positive references expressed by Turkish officials on the Cyprus issue, we have to say that these references have not been translated into practice at the negotiating table. We expect an immediate deposition of a map on the territory issue, which will facilitate and solve the property issue.”
Greek MEP, Sofia Sakorafa agreed that the PKK “is part of the solution in the negotiation for a comprehensive and lasting settlement of the Kurdish issue.”
However, she was critical of the EU for engaging with NATO in the Aegean. “Involving NATO is only going to escalate tensions. The results will be devastating for the people.” [Source]
MENSCHENRECHTE NİCHT MACHTPOLİTİSCHEN INTERESSEN OPFERN [Full text]
Turkey’s democratic backslide condemned by Eurepean Parliament
14.04.2016 – The European Parliament today adopted its annual progress report on Turkey’s EU accession process. Commenting on the report, Green foreign policy spokesperson and Turkey expert Bodil Valero said:
“The European Parliament has today highlighted its concerns with the backsliding on democratic norms, like the freedom of expression and the media, under the Erdogan regime. After years of neglecting relations with Turkey, it is disturbing that EU governments are now bending over backwards to please President Erdogan, whilst wilfully ignoring his transformation of the Turkish state into an autocracy with increasing disregard for basic rights.
“While our group has always strongly supported the accession path of Turkey, this cannot mean turning a blind eye to rights abuses in the country. The EU Commission and governments should speak out about the trampling of fundamental rights by the Erdogan regime, regardless of what other interests they want to pursue with Turkey’s cooperation.
“An overriding goal for the EU must be to ensure peace in Turkey. The EU must pressure the government to immediately restart the peace process with the Kurdish PKK. We regret that a majority of MEPs failed to call for an end to the solitary confinement of Abdullah Öcalan.” [Source]
Erdoğan monopolizes European Parliament’s EU
EFDD’s Nigel Farage asked for the European Parliament to celebrate the Dutch referendum’s outcome: “Juncker said if the Dutch voted no there would be a disaster. But he didn’t say it today. I don’t believe that these institutions can survive, this is new politics.” On the EU – Turkey deal, he criticized European leaders: “We see the bosses of EU bowing and scraping to Mr. Erdogan”. He suggested that the deal is not working, as “1,8 million people have come to the EU and we have sent 300,” thinking that “only ISIS will be happy as they managed to put 5,000 of their people to Europe”. [Full speech – video]
Filed under: A K P, Avrupa Birliği, Barış Süreci/Peace Process, Cumhurbaşkanlığı_President of Republic, European Union/Avrupa Birliği, Temel Hak ve Özgürlükler/Fundamental Rights, İç ve Dış Siyaset - Political Affairs