Friday

23rd Feb 2018

MEPs intensify push to halt Turkey talks

  • Turkey dismissed another 15,000 civil servants earlier this week (Photo: Reuters)

The EU wants to maintain membership talks with Turkey but MEPs are calling for them to be suspended, amid an intensifying crackdown by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini told the EU parliament in Strasbourg on Tuesday (22 November) that any move to annul Turkey's membership to the EU would be a lost opportunity.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

"If the accession process came to an end I believe we would both find ourselves in a lose-lose scenario," she said.

But Erdogan has hinted that he would support the reinstatement of the death penalty, a move that Mogherini has set as a red line for the EU.

The EU parliament will vote on a non-binding resolution on Thursday to freeze accession talks, given the government-led purge in Ankara against so-called terrorists and state saboteurs.

The leaders of all the major political groups in the Strasbourg-assembly have voiced their support for the motion.

"We cannot have any further talks with Turkey under these conditions," said Manfred Weber, a German MEP who leads the centre-right EPP group.

Weber said the resolution on Thursday will send a "political signal" to the Council, representing member states, to "formally freeze" Turkey's accession path towards EU membership.

"It is kind of confusing to see that foreign ministers are very harsh in their language but still are incapable of taking a further decision on this, which is clearly what we need," he said.

Ankara says it is rooting out a "deep state" loyal to Fethullah Gulen, an exiled cleric accused of orchestrating an attempted military coup in mid-July.

Relations with the EU were already fraying prior to the coup when Ankara moved to lift the immunity of MPs in May, opening up prosecutions against opposition parties. Relations further soured in the wake of the failed coup with both sides accusing the other of backsliding on democracy.

Another 15,000 dismissed

Turkey has arrested some 130,000 people since July. Around 40,000 are being held without charge. It has also jailed 145 journalists, more than any other nation.

Judges, lawyers and around a dozen members of the opposition HDP party are also in prison. Reports are also emerging of torture and suicides of those behind bars.

Turkey was granted candidate status in 1999 but had to wait until 2005 before formal talks started given the wider opposition from Belgium, France, and Germany.

In 1995, Turkey signed a Customs Union with the EU to enhance bilateral trade.

German centre-right Elmar Brok, who chairs the EU parliaments foreign affairs committee, noted some two-thirds of Turkey's direct foreign investment come from the EU.

Socialist party leader Gianni Pittella said the EU parliament is not trying to end relations with Turkey. "This is a very very provisional temporary freezing, we will review the situation in a few months," he said.

He said the freeze won't have any bearing on the Customs Union or on the migrant swap deal signed off with Ankara earlier this year.

"If you [Erdogan] are going to continue along these lines , we will continue with harder measures, but for the time being, we will just introduce this freezing," he said.

On Tuesday, prior to the Strasbourg debate at the EU parliament, Ankara widened its crackdown and dismissed another 15,000 civil servants. Erdogan remains defiant despite Western pressure and has accused Germany of harbouring terrorists associated with Kurdish rebel group PKK.

The EU commission earlier this month accused the country of "backsliding" in human rights and democracy. Erdogan said if the EU did not end the membership talks then he would ask for a referendum on the issue.

Turkey has endured a recent spate of bombings from both Islamic State militants and the PKK. The general insecurity in the country appears to have emboldened Erdogan to secure even greater executive powers.

Nationalists in the parliament on Tuesday backed a proposal to amend the constitution that could pave the way for him to remain in office until 2029. Nato member Turkey has also signalled a shift towards the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, a Chinese and Russian-led alliance.

Nato reassures allies on Trump and Erdogan

Nato chief voiced confidence that both the US and Turkey would remain steadfast allies despite Trump's win and Turkey's post-coup anger at Western powers.

EU in damage control on festering Turkey relations

The EU commission wants to maintain relations with Turkey, despite an EU parliament vote to suspend accession talks amid renewed threats from Ankara to scrap a migrant swap deal.

Interview

'Don't push Turkey away', says writer Elif Shafak

Novelist and essayist Elif Shafak said that isolating Turkey would "play into the hands of populism" and that liberals everywhere should defend their values with "emotional intelligence".

EU divided over Western Balkan enlargement

After the European Commission presented its Western Balkans strategy last week, with a view of possibly integrating the region by 2025, some EU ministers were less enthusiastic after their first discussion of the new policy.

Rights watchdog to visit Turkey over rule of law

The Strasbourg-based human rights watchdog, the Council of Europe, is heading to Ankara next week. The trip follows new plans by Ankara to meet EU demands for reforms in areas like anti-terror legislation.

News in Brief

  1. EU calls for immediate ceasefire in Syria
  2. UK's post-Brexit vision is 'pure illusion', Tusk says
  3. EU leaders express solidarity with Cyprus in Turkey drill row
  4. EU to double funding for Sahel forces
  5. EU parliament president: 'The immigration problem is Africa'
  6. May to unveil EU departure strategy next week
  7. Pregnant workers may be dismissed, EU court rules
  8. Romanian minister demands anti-corruption prosecutor fired

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. ILGA EuropeAnkara Ban on LGBTI Events Continues as Turkish Courts Reject NGO Appeals
  2. Aid & Trade LondonJoin Thousands of Stakeholders of the Global Aid Industry at Aid & Trade London
  3. Macedonian Human Rights Movement Int.European Free Alliance Joins MHRMI to End the Anti-Macedonian Name Negotiations
  4. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Tourism Year to Promote Business and Mutual Ties
  5. European Jewish CongressAt “An End to Antisemitism!” Conference, Dr. Kantor Calls for Ambitious Solutions
  6. UNESDAA Year Ago UNESDA Members Pledged to Reduce Added Sugars in Soft Drinks by 10%
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsUzbekistan: Investigate Torture of Journalist
  8. CESICESI@Noon on ‘Digitalisation & Future of Work: Social Protection For All?’ - March 7
  9. UNICEFExecutive Director's Committment to Tackling Sexual Exploitation and Abuse of Children
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersState of the Nordic Region 2018: Facts, Figures and Rankings of the 74 Regions
  11. Mission of China to the EUDigital Economy Shaping China's Future, Over 30% of GDP
  12. Macedonian Human Rights Movement Int.Suing the Governments of Macedonia and Greece for Changing Macedonia's Name

Latest News

  1. EU agrees budget to focus on defence, security and migration
  2. EU leaders nix transnational lists, cool on 'Spitzenkandidat'
  3. Regions chief: calls for smaller EU budget are 'impossible'
  4. Election fever picks up This WEEK
  5. EU-Morocco fishing deal casts doubt on EU future foreign policy
  6. EU leaders put 'Spitzenkandidat' on summit menu
  7. European far-right political party risks collapse
  8. The key budget issues on EU leaders' table

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Swedish EnterprisesHarnessing Globalization- at What Cost? Keynote Speaker Commissioner Malmström
  2. European Friends of ArmeniaSave The Date 28/02: “Nagorno-Karabakh & the EU: 1988-2018”
  3. European Heart NetworkSmart CAP is Triple Win for Economy, Environment and Health
  4. European Free AlllianceEFA Joined the Protest in Aiacciu to Solicit a Dialogue After the Elections
  5. EPSUDrinking Water Directive Step Forward but Human Right to Water Not Recognized
  6. European Gaming & Betting AssociationGambling Operators File Data Protection Complaint Against Payment Block in Norway
  7. European Jewish CongressEJC Expresses Deep Concern Over Proposed Holocaust Law in Poland
  8. CECEConstruction Industry Gets Together to Discuss the Digital Revolution @ the EU Industry Days
  9. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Relations in the New Era
  10. European Free AlllianceEnd Discrimination of European Minorities - Sign the Minority Safepack Initiative
  11. Centre Maurits Coppieters“Diversity Shouldn’t Be Only a Slogan” Lorant Vincze (Fuen) Warns European Commission
  12. Dialogue PlatformWhat Can Christians Learn from a Global Islamic Movement?