The EU’s future relations with Turkey came under intense scrutiny by GUE/NGL in the Strasbourg plenary tonight, with some MEPs branding the EU’s approach towards Ankara as incoherent and contradictory.

This was picked up by French MEP Marie-Christine Vergiat who said Turkey’s human rights violations are a cause of major concern, in particular, the imprisonment of opposition politicians and journalists:

“Turkey is the largest prison in the world for journalists.”

“I think of Loup Bureau, imprisoned for a reportage on Kurdish fighters in Syria, and all imprisoned Kurds, including co-presidents of the HDP party Selahattin Demirtaş and Figen Yüksekdağ, in jail for over 10 months on charges of terrorism.”

“In this context any negotiation seems absurd. Only the rule of law and the interests of the people should motivate decisions, not an Islamophobia which dare not speak its name,” she said.

Meanwhile, Cypriot MEP Neoklis Sylikiotis believes that the EU must show leadership on bringing Turkey to line if accession talks are to continue:

“We call on the EU to take action in order to pressure Turkey into implementing its contractual obligations as a candidate country.”

“It must also respect the human rights and freedom of all its citizens, to restart the negotiations for the solution to the Kurdish issue and to actively support the solution of the Cyprus problem,” he surmised.

However, Greek MEP Kostas Chrysogonos – a member on the Parliament’s delegation to Turkey – was more blunt and argued that accession talks should be suspended straightaway:

''Turkey's accession is unrealistic and this is what the European Parliament has stated when it asked for the suspension of the accession negotiations.”

“This should happen immediately, and the EU’s 636m euros of pre-accession aid for 2017 should also be suspended.”

“This aid goes to the Erdogan regime to fund actions like the attacks on Kurds, the torture on detainees etc. This assistance should stop because otherwise, we are accomplices in what Erdogan and his subordinates do,” reasoned Chrysogonos.

For Sofia Sakorafa MEP, the Commission’s inability to speak with one voice and to clarify its own official policy towards Turkey have made it impossible for the accession talks to progress:

“For a long time now, there’s been a deliberate effort to interrupt these negotiations with Turkey. Whoever is responsible for this has, in effect, given Turkey the time and the excuse to continue with its own policy which in turn, has led to the EU’s own impasse.”

“If the Commission’s policy was to be truly dictated by European principles and values, you would have suspended the accession negotiations long ago,” said the Greek MEP.

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