Without clear and significant progress in EU-related reforms, the European 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 neighboring EU member states remain challenging, stress MEPs.
Deterioration of human rights in Turkey
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.
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 modernizing the Customs Union when necessary democratic conditions on human rights and fundamental freedoms, respect of international law, and good neighborly 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.
Turkey defies rulings of the European Court of Human Rights
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.
“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,” said the rapporteur Spanish MEP Nacho Sánchez Amor.
“Turkey’s position in crucial geopolitical affairs cannot be an alibi to further deepen the authoritarian trend in the country,” he added.