EU Parliament calls for freeze on Turkey's membership talks if 'current negative trend' continues
The European Union should formally suspend Turkey’s negotiations to join the bloc if the backsliding in the rule of law and fundamental rights continue in the country, a fresh report adopted by EU lawmakers said on May 19.
In a new report adopted on May 19, the European Parliament said that if Turkey does not improve its rule of law and human rights record, the accession negotiations should be formally suspended.
The report warned that the relations between the European Union and Turkey were at a “historic point.”
The text was adopted by 480 votes in favor, 64 against and 150 abstentions.
Criticizing Turkey’s regressive institutional reforms, members of the European Parliament said they were alarmed by the “authoritarian interpretation of the presidential system.”
They pointed to the lack of independence of the judiciary and “continued hyper-centralization of power in the presidency” and called on Turkish authorities to release all imprisoned human rights defenders, journalists, lawyers, academics and others who have been jailed on unsubstantiated charges.
The report said that if “the current negative trend is not urgently and consistently reversed,” the European Commission should “recommend, in line with the negotiating framework from October 2005, the formal suspension of accession negotiations with Turkey.”
Rapporteur Nacho Sánchez Amor said the report was "probably the toughest yet in its criticism of the situation in Turkey."
“It reflects all that has unfortunately happened in the country in the last two years, in particular in the fields of human rights and rule of law, which remain the main concern for the European Parliament, and in its relations towards the EU and its members,” he said.
The Turkish Foreign Ministry condemned the report, referring to it as “biased” and unilateral.”
It said that the text “includes false allegations regarding human rights, democracy, the rule of law, our governmental system and political parties, and views Turkey's effective, solution-oriented, humanitarian and enterprising foreign policy as a threat.”
The ministry further said that as a candidate country, Turkey expects the European Parliament to carry out "constructive efforts" about how relations can be improved with Ankara, rather than "being a platform for baseless allegations and blind accusations against Turkey."
An official candidate for bloc membership since 1999, Turkey’s EU accession talks began in 2005, but have stalled in recent years.