All in One!
To Freeze EU accession talks with Turkey
Political group leaders called on EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini and Commissioner Johannes Hahn, in charge of Neighbourhood and Enlargement Negotiations, to freeze accession talks with Turkey, in a debate on Tuesday afternoon
The EU Commission and member states should impose a temporary freeze on EU accession talks with Turkey, urged a majority of political group leaders and MEPs in a debate with EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini and neighbourhood Commissioner Johannes Hahn on Tuesday afternoon. But the door for dialogue should remain open, unless Turkey introduces capital punishment, some added. A resolution will be put to a vote on Thursday at noon.
MEPs strongly condemned the disproportionately repressive measures taken in Turkey since the failed military take-over in July.
To Debate: Speakers and their statement.
Group of the European People’s Party (Christian Democrats) (PPE)
On Tuesday afternoon, MEPs will debate the situation in Turkey. For the EPP Group, the European Parliament’s reaction to the situation in Turkey should be very clear. Fundamental principles like the rule of law, human rights, freedom of speech, freedom of the press and non-discrimination are crucial and non-negotiable. For EPP Group Chair Manfred Weber, the enlargement negotiations with Turkey should be frozen immediately. A Resolution will be put to vote on Thursday.
The EU needs to send a clear message to Turkey. For the EPP Group, accession negotiations should be frozen as they cannot continue under the current circumstances. Should Turkey reintroduce the death penalty, we need to make very clear as well that such a country cannot become a member of the European Union,” said Manfred Weber, Chairman of the EPP Group in the European Parliament, during his plenary speech on EU-Turkey relations in the European Parliament today.
“Turkish people can be proud of the fact that they managed to defend the rule of law and democracy against the military during the attempted coup, back in July. The putsch was a violation of people’s rights. But it should not be misused now. Thousands of civil servants have been fired. Press freedom is limited. Media outlets have been closed down. Politicians, freely-elected MPs, are in prison. These developments are very worrying,” Weber said.
“Sovereignty should not be based on fear. Sovereignty that is based solely on weapons cannot be maintained, said Atatürk. We want to make this appeal: Turkey is a friend and a partner. Turkey should change its course – in the interest of its own citizens,” Weber concluded.
Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament (S&D)
Following the decision of the Conference of Presidents to schedule for the next plenary session a vote on a resolution concerning the situation in Turkey and the possibility of freezing the accession talks, the president of the Socialists and Democrats Group, Gianni Pittella, stated:
“The accession talks with Turkey should be temporarily frozen. On our initiative, the European Parliament will vote next week in Strasbourg on a resolution on this turning point in the relationship with Ankara. There is no alternative to these severe steps as long as the Turkish authorities keep neglecting and undermining democracy and rule of law. The dialogue with Ankara must be, and will be, kept alive but Erdoğan must understand that as a candidate country, rule of law, democracy, freedom of press and minorities’ rights must be untouchable pillars in Turkey. The doors to Turkey and Turkish people remain open; but the one for the accession talks, for the time being, should not.
“We also want to stigmatize the recent press attacks, which occurred on some relevant Turkish media, which blamed us for the meeting we held in Brussels with important representatives of the Kurdish HDP party, Tuğba Hezer Öztürk and Faysal Sariyildiz.
“HDP is a fully legitimized representative of the Kurdish community in Turkey; they are fully legitimized members of the Turkish Parliament and we fully recognise them as our sister party. Dialogue and mutual respect are essential values of democracy. We will not give that up and we will not accept intimidations on this regard.”
European Conservatives and Reformists Group (ECR)
Speaking in the European Parliament this afternoon, Syed Kamall MEP, Leader of the European Conservatives and Reformists group, called for the EU to have a new and more honest relationship with Turkey.
He said that the Turkish governing AK Party still contains many elements that are seeking to marry together Islam, democracy and economic liberalisation, but that President Erdogan’s actions have raised sufficient concerns for most MEPs to unite in saying, ‘enough is enough’.
Whilst recognising that the EU has to consider wider geo-political factors, Dr Kamall said the EU should focus more on an honest partnership with Turkey, rather than trying to apply pressure to Erdogan under a prospect of membership that is unlikely to be realised.
“Whatever our personal views, the time has come for us all to be honest and open with Turkey.
A country that has seen remarkable economic growth thanks to increasing economic freedom.
Under a governing AK Party that has married together Islam with democracy and economic liberalisation.
There are many who had hoped it could become a model for a new form of “Muslim democracy” in countries across the Middle East and North Africa
Just as “Christian Democracy” developed in Europe.
And I am confident that many members of the AK Party still share this vision. But, we all have concerns over the actions of President Erdogan.
Had he simply been content to be elected as a ceremonial President, rather than seeking more power as an executive President, there might be a little less criticism. But what we have seen recently raises serious concerns.
Opponents being arrested, media being closed, minorities being persecuted.
Across this Chamber today, I believe many of us are now united in saying enough is enough.
I fully understand why some politicians here and in our national capitals are reluctant to criticise Erdogan.
I appreciate that there are much wider geo-political factors at play.
Sustaining the EU-Turkey migration deal – after their generosity in hosting three million refugees. Security cooperation. For they too have suffered from terrorist attacks. And not wanting to push Erdogan into Putin’s arms or into a corner.
But we need to be honest with each other.
And in wanting to be honest with Turkey.
We need to be honest with ourselves.
For far too long, we have dishonestly dangled the prospect of EU membership in front of Turkey.
You and I know there are so many reasons why it may not happen in our lifetimes.
Prejudice against a predominantly non-Christian nation, whose land mass is mostly in Asia; Fears over Turkey’s future voting weight in the European Parliament and Council; Concerns over borders with Iran, Syria and Iraq as the EU seeks to extend its Common Security and Defence Policy.
To name just a few reasons.
But the EU continues to pretend that it is business as usual in relations with Turkey.
Yet more sticking plaster across growing cracks.
In common with other groups, the ECR has members that are for, against, and agnostic on the issue of Turkish membership.
But we can all see that the current relationship is not working.
So instead of business as usual, let us build a new relationship based not on false promises, but on honesty. Let us build a new relationship based not necessarily on EU membership but on real cooperation. Let us build a new relationship based not on just fighting today’s fires and problems, but on preparing for the challenges we will all face for decades to come.”
Group of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE
During today’s debate on the relationship with Turkey in the European Parliament, ALDE leader Guy Verhofstadt made a plea to suspend the accession talks with Turkey. He also urged his colleagues to fight against Europe’s fifth column. To fight against Putin and Trump’s puppets who want to destroy Europe from within.
He said: “The European Union loses credibility by looking away from Erdogan’s attempt to install an authoritarian regime. Therefore, we should end the accession negotiations with Turkey immediately. Anything else than approving this resolution would be fooling our citizens and betraying the Turkish citizens, especially those who look to Europe as their future.”
European Parliament’s Vice-President Alexander Lambsdorff’s, ALDE shadow rapporteur on Turkey added:
“Negotiations with Turkey are fundamentally dishonest. Neither Turkey nor EU member states are actually interested in the success of negotiations. Therefore, ALDE calls for the immediate suspension of the on-going negotiations with Turkey accompanied by a freeze of the Pre-Accession funding. Instead we need to replace the current process with a new positive agenda.”
Verhofstadt added: “Europe is surrounded by a ring of autocrats. Erdogan wants to close down every Turkish group in Europe that is not in agreement with him. Putin openly finances populist, nationalist and anti- European political parties. And Trump, via his strategic advisor Bannon, wants to launch his extreme-right website Breitbart in Paris and Berlin to undermine the French and German elections.”
“Trump even wants to play Her Majesty the Queen by nominating the British ambassadors.”
“There is a fifth column active in Europe. A fifth column to destroy our European way of live, to destroy our values, to destroy our democracy.”
“This fifth column are the cronies of Erdogan, Putin and also Trump, undermining Europe from within. The old puppets of Putin and the new puppets of Trump.”
“Let’s fight back. Let the European Parliament become the engine of change. Let us push for a new Europe. For a Defence Union. For the full completion of our internal market. For a government for the Euro. For a European Border and Coast Guard, a European intelligence and investigation capacity.”
Lors du débat d’aujourd’hui sur les relations avec la Turquie au Parlement européen, Guy Verhofstadt, président de l’alliance des démocrates et des libéraux pour l’Europe au Parlement européen, a plaidé pour la suspension des négociations d’adhésion avec la Turquie. Il a également exhorté ses collègues à lutter contre la cinquième colonne de l’Europe, à lutter contre les marionnettes de M. Poutine et de M. Trump, voulant détruire l’Europe de l’intérieur.
“L’Union européenne perd de sa crédibilité en détournant les yeux de la tentative de Recep Tayyip Erdoğan d’instaurer un régime autoritaire. Par conséquent, nous devrions immédiatement mettre un terme aux négociations d’adhésion avec la Turquie. Si nous n’approuvons pas cette résolution, nous trompons nos citoyens et trahissons les citoyens turcs, particulièrement ceux qui considèrent l’Europe comme leur avenir”, a déclaré Guy Verhofstadt.
Alexander Lambsdorff, vice-président du Parlement européen, porte-parole de l’ADLE sur la Turquie, a ajouté : “Les négociations avec la Turquie sont extrêmement malhonnêtes, ni la Turquie ni les États membres de l’UE ne sont réellement intéressés par la réussite des négociations. Par conséquent, l’ADLE demande la suspension immédiate des négociations en cours avec la Turquie ainsi que le gel du financement de la préadhésion. Nous devons plutôt remplacer le processus actuel par un nouvel agenda positif.
“L’Europe est entourée d’un cercle d’autocrates. Recep Tayyip Erdoğan veut fermer tous les groupes turcs en Europe n’étant pas d’accord avec lui. Vladimir Poutine finance ouvertement des partis politiques populistes, nationalistes et anti-européens. Et Donald Trump, par l’intermédiaire de son conseiller stratégique Steve Bannon, veut lancer son site Breitbart d’extrême droite à Paris et à Berlin, afin de miner les élections en France et en Allemagne,” a poursuivi Guy Verhofstadt.
“Donald Trump veut même jouer à ‘Sa Majesté la Reine’ en nommant les ambassadeurs britanniques.”
“Il y a une cinquième colonne active en Europe. Une cinquième colonne pour détruire notre mode de vie européen, détruire nos valeurs, détruire notre démocratie. “
“Cette cinquième colonne sont les acolytes de MM. Erdogan, Poutine et aussi de M. Trump, sapant l’Europe de l’intérieur. Les vieilles marionnettes de Vladimir Poutine et les nouvelles marionnettes de Donald Trump. “
“Réagissons. Que le Parlement européen devienne le moteur du changement. Soutenons une nouvelle Europe. Pour une Union de la Défense. Pour l’achèvement complet de notre marché intérieur. Pour un gouvernement pour l’Euro. Pour un corps européen de garde-frontières et de garde-côtes, une capacité européenne de renseignement et d’enquête. “
Confederal Group of the European United Left – Nordic Green Left (GUE/NGL)
With democracy and the human rights situation in freefall since the 15th July coup attempt in Turkey, GUE/NGL’s MEPs have urged EU leaders to immediately halt the controversial migrants deal and to re-examine all ties with the Erdoğan regime.
Takis Hadjigeorgiou – Vice-Chair of the European Parliament’s delegation to Turkey – said the EU’s relations with Turkey has reached a critical juncture:
“The European Parliament would have risked losing its last shred of dignity had it not proceeded to having this debate on Turkey and a vote on the resolution this Thursday.”
“Meanwhile, we must also underscore the arrest of the HDP’s Selahattin Demirtaş – the co-leader of the third biggest party in the country which represents at least six million voters.”
“All these, however, have nothing personal against the Turkish people who are faced with such deep divisions in their country,” he added.
“In terms of the negotiations on Cyprus, I welcome Tsipras and Erdoğan’s upcoming meeting to discuss the issue of security in the post-solution era – we all have a role to play in order to achieve a success in Cyprus,” he said.
German MEP and substitute on the Parliament’s delegation to Turkey, Martina Michels , is highly critical of the European Council for the current predicament:
“Apart from a few so-called progress reports, both the EU and the Council of Europe – of which Turkey is a member – have maintained this deafening silence and appeasement as Erdoğan strives for regional supremacy.”
“Such passiveness can be attributed to several factors: to maintain ‘Fortress Europe’; and to keep NATO membership happy so that the rest of the alliance can continue to sell arms to Turkey,” she added.
“I call on the European Council to stop the migrants deal with Turkey. We must also remember the so-called European values of solidarity and respecting human rights when it comes to political prisoners.”
“Merely handing out the Sakharov Prize is not enough to absolve the European Union of its responsibilities to human rights and democracy,” argued Michels.
Swedish MEP Malin Björk said political will was badly needed if the EU is to face up to the situation in Turkey:
“First of all, we call for an immediate stop to the shameful refugee deal with Turkey.”
“In addition, we must freeze membership negotiations with Erdoğan’s authoritarian regime until the rule of law has been restored.”
“Lastly, the EU must provide support to the HDP, to journalists, women and all those who stand for democracy in the face of repression.”
“To our imprisoned HDP colleagues – they represent our hope for peace and democracy in Turkey. We will not rest until they have been freed,” Björk concluded.
Ernest Maragall, a member of the European Parliament’s Turkey delegation said:
“We are gravely concerned by the deteriorating situation in Turkey in respect of human rights and the rule of law. We have condemned the attempted coup of 15 July and support Turkey’s right to bring those responsible to justice. But what we are now seeing is the regime using this as cover to arrest, detain and harass a vast number of its opponents whether or not they had anything to do with the coup.
“Regrettably we now find it necessary to send a strong signal to the Turkish government by temporarily freezing EU accession talks.
“But channels of communication should remain open – it is very important for dialogue to continue.”
Josep-Maria Terricabras, President of the EFA Group in the European Parliament said:
“I share the concerns of many of my colleagues about the serious deterioration in the state of Turkish democracy and human rights. Many of the arrests and detentions that are taking place seem to have little to do with bringing people to justice and more to do with clamping down on any opposition.
“The situation is grave, and I am particularly concerned about Turkey’s treatment of its Kurdish minority in the current climate. We have seen Kurdish TV stations closed, and Kurdish law makers arrested and forced from office – apparently persecuted simply because of their opposition to the current government.
“This is not democracy and it cannot be tolerated. It is right to freeze accession negotiations now, but I very much hope that they can resume in the near future in a more peaceful and conciliatory climate.”
Group of the Greens/European Free Alliance (Verts/ALE)
The European Parliament will today debate EU-Turkey relations. While there is expected to be support from a majority of MEPs for a freeze on accession negotiations with Turkey, the Greens/EFA group is also calling for pushback on Turkey’s calls for enhancement of the Customs Union and Visa Liberalisation.
Commenting ahead of the debate, Greens/EFA co-president Rebecca Harms said:
“In the past, EU parliamentarians have underlined the need to prosecute those responsible for the coup according to the principles of rule of law. But the current violations of human rights, repression of opposition, and criminalisation of journalism have nothing to do with rule of law. Any opposition against President Erdoğan seems reason enough for people to be arrested, prosecuted or sacked from their jobs. The EU needs to send a strong message that he cannot continue in this vein and should freeze the accession negotiations, giving a clear indication that the reintroduction of the death penalty would lead to negotiations being suspended indefinitely. At the same time, channels of communication with Turkey need to remain open.”
Green EU-Turkey relations spokesperson Bodil Valero added:
“We need to be clear with President Erdoğan that he will not achieve the progress he wants to see on issues like the enhancement of the Customs Union or visa liberalisation as long as he continues to flout fundamental rights at home. However, it simply does not add up for the EU to condemn President Erdoğan’s regime while at the same time looking to him to solve the refugee crises on our behalf. The EU must take matters into its own hands. If Member States are prepared to finally fulfil their commitments on the resettlement of refugees, and if the EU will stop returning refugees to Turkey, we will no longer find ourselves so reliant on President Erdoğan.”
À l’ordre du jour de cette plénière, les négociations d’adhésion de la Turquie à l’UE devraient faire l’objet d’une attention particulière avec une majorité de députés européens favorables à leur gel.
Le groupe Verts-ALE insiste également pour refuser tout approfondissement de l’union douanière.
Pour le Président du groupe Verts-ALE, Philippe LAMBERTS :
“Les parlementaires européens ont, à plusieurs reprises, souligné la nécessité de poursuivre les responsables du coup d’État. Mais les violations actuelles des droits humains, la répression de l’opposition et la criminalisation du journalisme n’ont rien à voir et doivent cesser. Toute opposition au président Erdoğan est désormais muselée et peut conduire à l’arrestation, aux poursuites ou au licenciement. L’UE doit envoyer un message fort et décider de geler les négociations d’adhésion en signalant que toute réintroduction de la peine de mort entraînera leur suspension définitive.”
Pour Eva JOLY, membre Verts-ALE de la Commission Justice et affaires intérieures :
“Nous devons être clairs avec le président Erdoğan : il ne peut y avoir de progrès sur l’union douanière ou la libéralisation des visas tant qu’il ne respectera pas les droits fondamentaux. Il est toutefois inutile de condamner le régime d’Erdoğan si par ailleurs on continue de s’appuyer sur lui pour résoudre la crise des réfugiés. L’UE doit prendre les choses en main. Si les États membres tenaient leurs engagements en matière de réinstallation des réfugiés et si l’UE cessait de renvoyer les réfugiés en Turquie, nous ne serions pas aussi dépendants du président Erdoğan. C’est une question de cohérence ».
Am Donnerstag stimmt das Europäische Parlament über eine Resolution zu den Beziehungen zur Türkei ab. Die Mehrheit der Abgeordneten wird eine Aussetzung der Beitrittsverhandlungen fordern. Die Grünen/EFA-Fraktion hält es gleichzeitig für wichtig, den Dialog mit der Türkei aufrecht zu erhalten, sagt die Fraktionsvorsitzende Rebecca Harms:
“Das Europäische Parlament hat sich zur Notwendigkeit bekannt, die Verantwortlichen des Putsches nach rechtsstaatlichen Verfahren zur Verantwortung zu ziehen. Aber was derzeit in der Türkei passiert, ist völlig unverhältnismäßig und hat mit Rechtsstaatlichkeit nichts zu tun. Jegliche Opposition gegenüber Präsident Erdogan ist in der Türkei Grund genug, um verfolgt, verhaftet oder entlassen zu werden.
Das Europäische Parlament muss ein klares Signal an die türkische Regierung senden und die Beitrittsverhandlungen mit der Türkei einfrieren. Sollte Erdogan noch einen Schritt weiter gehen und die Todesstrafe einführen, müssen die Verhandlungen definitiv beendet werden. Gleichzeitig müssen die Gesprächskanäle in die Türkei offen gehalten werden.”
Die stellvertretende Vorsitzende der Grünen/EFA-Fraktion und Mitglied der Türkei-Delegation, Ska Keller, fügt hinzu:
“Die EU muss Erdogan klar machen, dass er nicht schalten und walten kann, wie er will, ohne mit Konsequenzen rechnen zu müssen. Eine Menschenrechtsverletzung jagt die andere; immer mehr Journalisten werden ins Gefängnis geworfen und immer mehr Oppositionelle – vor allem von der kurdischen Partei HDP – werden mundtot gemacht. Wir müssen vor allem Erdogans Prestigeprojekte ausbremsen – allen voran die Zollunion mit der Europäischen Union. Es darf keine Erweiterung der Zollunion geben, solange Erdogan nicht auf den Pfad der Demokratie und des Rechtsstaats zurück kehrt. Außerdem müssen die EU-Mitgliedsstaaten aufhören, im Rahmen des EU-Türkei-Deals, Flüchtlinge in die Türkei zurück zu schicken. Eine Visaliberalisierung für türkische Staatsbürger kann es erst geben, wenn die türkische Regierung alle Bedingungen dafür erfüllt.”
Remarks by High Representative/Vice-President Federica Mogherini on EU-Turkey relations at the plenary session of the European Parliament
Strasbourg – 22 November 2016 – Once again we gather to discuss Turkey, and rightly so. Our relationship with Turkey is at a crossroads, because Turkey is at a crossroads.
On the night of July 15th, during the attempted coup d’État, we stood on the side of Turkey’s democracy and of the democratic institutions. We stood on the side of the Turkish people, who took on the streets and confronted the tanks. We stood on the side of the over two hundred innocents who were shot down that night. We stood on the side of the parliament as it was being bombed, and of the Turkish parties – all of them – that spoke against the coup and in support of democracy.
We supported the Turkish democracy on July 15th, and it is exactly the Turkish democracy we support today – as we see the leaders of the Peoples’ Democratic Party – a legitimate party in the Turkish parliament – arrested and imprisoned.
The arrest of the co-chairs of HDP, as well as the detention of several of its deputies, adds to a long list of extremely worrying developments. These include renewed considerations to reinstate the death penalty, continued restrictions on the freedom of expression, the closure of media outlets and arrests of journalists, academics, the suspension of thousands of civil servants, with a very worrying situation for the judicial system.
We have always been clear that the Turkish authorities have a legitimate right, to hold the perpetrators of the coup and of terrorist attacks accountable for their actions. We have also called on all political parties to unequivocally condemn terrorist violence.
At the same time, we know that the respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms is the strongest antidote to extremism and terrorism. Any allegation of wrongdoing must be established via transparent procedures, in all individual cases. Individual criminal liability can only be established with full respect for the separation of powers, the independence of the judiciary and the right of every individual to a fair trial.
These are positions we all agreed on, in the Foreign Affairs Council on Monday last week. And all Foreign Ministers have agreed on the importance to maintain a unified and clear EU position, in line with our declaration on behalf of all 28, issued on 8 November.
Our relations with Turkey have reached a crucial point. I believe the best way to strengthening Turkey’s democracy – the most effective way – is by engaging with it, by keeping channels open.
The accession process has achieved important results in many fields, from the energy sector, to both our economies and business, to the talks on Cyprus – let me stress how important talks on Cyprus are for us all. Turkey seems to be heading towards constitutional reform. Let me stress that it should serve as a platform to strengthen checks and balances, strengthen participatory democracy, and to address the Kurdish issue. As we have made it clear on many occasions, the EU stands ready to fully support the country to achieve these goals.
The work goes on – and I have recently met with Turkey’s Europe Minister Ömer Çelik, but also with the Secretary General of the Council of Europe, Thorbjørn Jagland. Cooperation with the Council of Europe is particularly important, and I hope Turkey will address the concerns of the Council’s Commissioner for Human Rights.
What is crucial in the short-term is a swift, fair and independent domestic redress mechanism to be in place. Failing this, we are going to see a flood of cases in front of the European Court of Human Rights. I know talks are ongoing with the Council of Europe to address this issue, I hope this work will bring results.
There is much the European Union and Turkey can do together starting with Cyprus or against terrorism, for our economies and our business, on refugees for the future of Syria and for the stability of the Caucasus. And in all these fields, we both need constant reciprocal dialogue.
I always say that foreign policy is about building win-win solutions. If the accession process came to an end, we would both find ourselves in a lose-lose scenario. Europe would lose an important channel for dialogue, and leverage, with Turkey. Turkey would lose a lot. And we would all lose an opportunity for greater friendship and cooperation among our peoples.
In this sprit, we should also ask ourselves which tools and instruments we have at our disposal in order to increase, and not reduce, our leverage on Turkey’s reforms and on its society.
In order to do so, we need full clarity from our Turkish partners on what they want. In that regard, it’s clear that moving from rhetoric to action on the issue of the death penalty would be a clear signal that Turkey does not want to be a member of the European family, neither a member of the Council of Europe, which it is now, nor of the EU. Membership means sharing the values Europe stands for – capital punishment is for sure not one of them.
Some say that Turkey has to choose between the West and the East. I don’t agree. Turkey can and should stay true to its nature, as a bridge between worlds and cultures. If Turkey moves further away from our European Union and from democracy, it would lose part of its own heritage and identity, and culture, and power. This would be in no one’s interest, and certainly not in the interest of the Turkish people.
The last time I was in Turkey, we all agreed that we need to talk more to each other, and a little bit less about each other. This is the attitude we need, both on the part of the Turkish government and inside our Union. Looking forward to hearing your views, both me and Commissioner Hahn will be listening carefully to your interventions. Note presence of almost all group leaders, which I appreciate. [Full Remarks.]