EU-Turkey relations are at a historic low point, say MEPs

In a resolution adopted on Wednesday, members of the European Parliament say relations between the EU and Turkey have deteriorated to the point that the Union needs to reassess them deeply. In recent years, the government of Turkey has moved further and further away from European values and standards. As a result, relations have reached an all-time low and MEPs are particularly concerned about the situation regarding respect for the rule of law and fundamental rights. MEPs reiterate that if Turkey does not reverse the current negative trend, the Commission should recommend a formal suspension of accession negotiations.

Hyper-centralization of power

MEPs criticize Turkey’s regressive institutional reforms and are alarmed by the consolidation of “an authoritarian interpretation of the presidential system”, the lack of independence of the judiciary, and the “continuing hyper-centralization of power in the presidency.” to release all human rights defenders, journalists, lawyers, academics and other people who have been imprisoned by the government on unsubstantiated charges.MEPs are also concerned about Turkey’s hostile foreign policy, which constantly clashes with EU priorities, particularly towards Greece and Cyprus, and its involvement in Syria, Libya, and Nagorno-Karabakh. Furthermore, they once again encourage Turkey to recognize the Armenian genocide and pave the way for genuine reconciliation between the Turkish and Armenian people.

Call for continued support for Syrian refugees

Reaffirming their belief that Turkey is a key partner for stability in the region, MEPs recognize the EU’s ongoing diplomatic efforts for a genuine and effective dialogue with the country. Turkey still plays an important role as it hosts nearly 4 million refugees, including around 3.6 million Syrian refugees, and addressing this crisis has become even more difficult due to the COVID-19 pandemic, MEPs point out. Parliament commends this commitment and encourages the EU to continue to give the necessary support to Syrian refugees and host communities in Turkey. MEPs stress that however, the use of migrants and refugees as an instrument of blackmail cannot be accepted. Finally, MEPs stress that there is a vibrant and committed civil society in Turkey, one of the few control systems left in the power of the government, and urge the Commission to continue to financially support Turkish civil society organizations. Rapporteur Nacho Sánchez Amor (S&D, ES) said that this report is probably the toughest ever in its criticism of the situation in Turkey. It reflects everything that has unfortunately happened in the country over the past two years, in particular concerning human rights and the rule of law, which continue to be the main concern of the European Parliament, and in relations with the Union and its members. We hope that Turkey will change course and put into practice the recent expressions of goodwill. We urge the other EU institutions to condition any constructive program they might pursue with Turkey on democratic reform. The text was adopted on Wednesday with 480 votes in favor, 64 a

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