Parliament rewards Turkey despite provocations & violations
In spite of Turkey’s continuous violation of human rights and flagrant disregard for Cypriot sovereignty, the EU Parliament’s green light to updating the Customs Union arrangement today has been described by Left MEPs as a win for the despotic Recep Tayyib Erdoğan, and a crushing blow to the democratic opposition in the country.
Today’s plenary vote is an annual assessment on Turkey’s accession process to the EU. This year’s report covers both 2019 and 2020 when Turkish forces made numerous illegal territorial, aerial and maritime violations in the eastern Mediterranean during this period, particularly around Cypriot waters. At the same time, there has also been a massive clampdown on human rights, and widespread arrests of opposition politicians, journalists and activists.
In truth, EU-Turkey relations have steadily deteriorated over the past few years, making cooperation between the two sides extremely difficult.
The report includes details on the dire situation for the rule of law inside Turkey. Crucially, the report references the lack of progress in solving the Cyprus problem, and that a resumption of negotiations from where they left off in 2017 at Crans-Montana is necessary. It also proposes an end to arms exports to Turkey – a key demand of Left MEPs – and criticises the Erdoğan regime’s interference in the judiciary, and its role in conflicts such as Syria and Libya.
Yet, this Parliament report remains insistent upon ‘opening windows’ for a different relationship with Turkey by modernising the Customs Union; in effect, rewarding the Erdoğan regime with economic incentives at a time when the country is struggling financially. Left MEPs have long argued against the upgrading of the Customs Union as Turkey has failed to fulfil its obligations under the current agreement.
Commenting on the vote, Giorgos Georgiou (AKEL, Cyprus) said:
“EU-Turkey relations need to be based on Turkey’s respect of fundamental rights and freedoms, and meeting the Copenhagen criteria.”
“Turkey must prove its objectives towards the EU with tangible and consistent actions, and refrain from all provocative actions which violate the sovereignty and sovereign rights of other member states.”
“It must also show goodwill in the negotiations for a comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus problem,” he concluded.
Özlem Demirel (Die Linke, Germany) said:
“The Erdoğan regime is heading on a downward path – both economically and politically.”
“This EU Parliament report describes in detail the worsening situation for the human rights situation in Turkey. Yet, the EU has failed to take a clear stance against the despot, and is instead pursuing an appeasement policy. By persisting with the Customs Union, the EU is practically helping to get the Erdoğan regime back on its feet. This is not only harmful but will deal a crushing blow to the democratic opposition in Turkey.”