The European Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee (AFET) has called for a “break [in] the current deadlock” and for “a parallel and realistic framework” in EU-Turkey relations, Turkish Minute reported, citing Deutsche Welle Turkish service.
Earlier this month Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan gave a green light to Sweden’s entry to NATO, after saying at the last moment that he would only back Sweden’s NATO candidacy if the European Union resumes long-stalled membership talks with Ankara.
Turkey first applied to be a member of the European Economic Community — the predecessor of the EU — in 1987.
It became an EU candidate country in 1999, and membership negotiations were officially launched in 2005.
The talks stalled over European concerns about human rights violations that came in the midst of a sweeping crackdown Erdoğan launched after surviving a failed 2016 military coup.
MEPs said in a report adopted by the Foreign Affairs Committee on Tuesday by 47 votes in favor, no votes against and 10 abstentions that unless there is a drastic change of course by the Turkish government, Turkey’s EU accession process cannot resume under the current circumstances.
The MEPs urge the Turkish government, the EU and its member states to break the current deadlock and move towards a closer partnership. They recommend starting a reflection process to find “a parallel and realistic framework” for EU-Turkey relations, calling on the European Commission to explore possible formats for a mutually appealing framework.
The report urges Turkey to ratify Sweden’s NATO membership without any further delay, underlining that the NATO accession process of one country can “in no way” be linked to the EU accession process of another.
The MEPs also said in the report that Turkey remains a candidate for EU accession, a NATO ally and a key partner in security, trade and economic relations and migration, adding that the Turkish government is expected to respect democratic values, rule of law and human rights and abide by EU laws, principles and obligations.
The MEPs further stated that they welcome Turkey’s vote in favor of condemning Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine in the UN General Assembly as well as its commitment to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the country, regretting that Turkey does not support sanctions outside the UN framework.
They commend Turkey’s efforts to continue hosting the largest refugee population in the world of almost 4 million people, also welcoming the continued provision of EU funding for refugees and host communities in Turkey and expressing their strong commitment to sustain this in the future.
The MEPs also expressed their “heartfelt condolences” to the families of the victims of the devastating earthquakes that hit southern and southeastern Turkey on Feb. 6, claiming more than 50,000 lives. They stated that the EU should continue to support the people of Turkey in meeting their humanitarian needs and reconstruction efforts.
Nacho Sanchez Amor, the European Parliament’s Turkey rapporteur who prepared the report, said that a revival of Turkey’s EU accession process will not happen as a result of geopolitical bargaining but rather when Turkish authorities show real interest in stopping the continuous backsliding in fundamental freedoms and the rule of law.
“If the Turkish government is sincere in this they should show it with concrete reforms and actions,” Amor added.
The report is expected to be put to a vote in the European Parliament as a whole in September.