Coherent approach needed in EU-Turkish relations over accession and trade talks
GUE/NGLMEPs did not hold back in their criticism of the current state of play in Turkey at the European Parliament today following the highly controversial constitutional referendum earlier this month.
They also reserved stinging criticism for the EU’s muddled approach towards the Turkish state over the issue of accession talks and the Customs Union.
German MEP Martina Michels - a Substitute Member of the European Parliament’s Delegation to Turkey who has recently returned from attending the trial of HDP opposition co-Chair Figen Yüksekdağ in Ankara - is of the belief that any threats to terminate EU accession talks will play directly into President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s hand:
“The result of the constitutional referendum is not the stunning victory for Erdoğan that he would like us to believe. Instead, it showed the deep divisions within his country.”
“What the EU needs now is a new chapter in our relations with Turkey and to openly show our support for Turkish civil society,” she said.
“If we threaten Turkey by breaking off EU accession talks - as suggested by the EPP leader - we would be abandoning Turkish civil society which would be highly irresponsible.”
“What we need first is a fund for refugees instead of a dirty deal on refugees with Turkey. Secondly, we want no arms exports to Turkey, a withdrawal of NATO troops and better dialogue to strengthen democratic forces in Turkey.”
“We also demand an end to reprisals against the opposition, the independent media, the Kurds and women,” urged Michels in the plenary.
Meanwhile, Cypriot MEP Takis Hadjigeorgiou, Vice-Chair of the European Parliament’s delegation to Turkey, tried to imagine Erdoğan’s reaction upon hearing the EU’s hawkish stance over accession talks at the same time as a much more timid approach to trade:
“The proposal to suspend accession negotiations whilst continuing with Customs Union talks is enough to make Erdoğan laugh out loud!”
“It’s like saying to the Turks that we don’t want you to join and we don’t want you to come into our home... but you can at least come into the kitchen!” says Hadjigeorgiou.
“The customs relations between Turkey and the EU gives Turkey exactly what it wants.”
“If we are going to give Turkey the Customs Union anyway, then it is of no relevance whether accession negotiations are suspended or not!”
“And we all know Turkey doesn’t respect the terms and conditions of the current agreement for the Customs Union in relation to all member states,” he concluded.