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19th Aug 2019

Turkish AKP gets observer status in EU's largest political family

  • Mr Erdogan's AK Party has been accepted for an observer status in the largest political group in the European parliament (Photo: European Commission)

The political parties of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayip Erdogan and of Ukraine President Viktor Yushchenko have received observer status within the centre-right European People's Party.

The political bureau of the EPP, the largest political group in the European parliament, hammered out the decision concerning the AK Party and 'Our Ukraine' on Friday (28 January).

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... or join as a group

The group's party leaders gave a green light to the AK Party last November - long after the Turkish party informally expressed its desire to participate.

Mr Erdogan's request for his Justice and Development party to join the centre-right's ranks had caused difficulties within the EPP - which has several members opposed to Turkey's full membership of the EU.

Mr Yushchenko's political platform was accepted in view of his commitment to promote Ukraine's future in the EU.

"I am particularly pleased with this development, because it, once again, proves that the EPP attracts strong and reliable leaders from all over Europe," EPP President Martens said in a statement.

Not the same as EU membership

The decision was reportedly an easy one, as "a vast majority of group's members agreed that the AK Party is very similar to most of the Christian democratic parties in Europe and it is important for the group to have a strong partner in Turkey," Robert Fitzhenry, the EPP-ED spokesman told the EUobserver.

"However, the members made it clear that this decision should not pre-judge further discussions concerning Turkey's future in the EU."

French and German conservatives belong to the strongest opponents of the country's European membership.

Both the AK Party and 'Our Ukraine' were approved unanimously, except for two abstentions by Slovak and Czech Christian democrats concerning the Turkish party, according to Beatriz Toribio from EPP.

"The two parties can now send their delegates to all the group's meetings, without a right to vote. Even though I personally think that their leaders will probably sell this as a signal of stronger back-up by the European parliamentarians, their EPP observant status and EU membership are two separate issues," Ms Toribio told the EUobserver.

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