More than a decade after EU-Turkey accession negotiation started, MEPs adopted a resolution last week, calling for the talks to be suspended until Ankara ends its disproportionate and repressive response to July’s failed coup. The Turkish government immediately retaliated by saying that it would let thousands of migrants pass through the country’s territory to Europe. Turkey hosts the largest refugee population in the world – three million people – and is a transit country for Syrian, Afghan, and Iraqi refugees trying to reach Europe.
Greek member of European People’s Party, or EPP, Manolis Kefalogiannis, who is also the head of European Parliament’s delegation to Turkey, commented that both sides were entering “a new phase“ in their relations and emphasized that the mutual implementation of the agreement on immigration was crucial. Brussels has heavily criticized Ankara for the suspension, detention and arrests of military personnel, public servants, teachers and university deans in the aftermath of the failed coup of July 2016. MEPs are concerned about the subsequent crackdown and President Recep Yayyip Erdogan’s plan to reintroduce capital punishment.
Mr Kefalogiannis also said that “Turkey must stop exhibiting a huge democratic deficit, particularly following the coup of July 2016 and it should stop considering reintroducing the death penalty. Furthermore, Turkey must adopt the EU values and standards, respect the EU acquis and stop disputing international treaties, like the Treaty of Lausanne.“ The resolution calling for a temporary freeze on the EU membership talks is a follow-up to the previously stated concerns by MEPs that the way Turkey will manage the aftermath of the coup would be crucial for the country’s democracy, rule of law and human rights. The EU has also urged Turkey to release the journalists and media and media workers being held without compelling evidence of criminal activity.