Members of European Parliament call EU to take harsher stance against Turkish government

Members of European Parliament (EP) have slammed Turkish government’s anti-democratic policies and massive human rights violations in the country during a plenary session to discuss European Union-Turkey relations and called EU to take a harsher stance against Turkish government. Number of EP members accused the European Commission and the European Council of going easy on Ankara’s human rights violations and its anti-democratic direction.

British member of the European Parliament Charles Tannock has said that Turkey’s foreign policy contradicts EU policy and goes against Western line. “Recently, we witnessed [Turkey’s] purchase of the S-400 missile defense system from Russia for $2.5 billion. This decision not only disregards the tension between Russia and the West but also contradict the policies of the EU on Syria. Turkey’s operations launched against the Democratic Union Party (PYD) is another instance. Also, they are pestering [Greek] Cyprus over oil exploration activities being conducted in their own territorial waters,” said Tannock.

Saying that Erdoğan’s actions to be met with a harsh response from Europe, German MEP Ska Keller stated that the EU has “an instrument [for use] against Erdoğan” that will not wear down the opposition, referring to the enlargement of the Customs Union. She also called for an arms embargo being placed on Turkey for arms distributed from the EU. “Although Turkey is in a war, EU member states currently make arms sales to Turkey. Let alone loads of arms, even a single weapon should not be sent there,” she said.

Alexander Graf Lambsdorff, the deputy chairman of the Alliance of Democrats and Liberals for Europe (ALDE), said that 77 percent of Europeans are against Turkey’s entry into the EU, adding that the commission must take steps to suspend the country’s membership negotiations as soon as possible. “Many issues can be discussed but dialogue cannot be maintained unless those under arrest are released,” Lambsdorff said, adding that he would not make any other comment regarding Turkey at the European Parliament platform unless the bloc gives up on Turkey’s accession.

Renate Sommer, a member of the Christian Democrats, claimed that the European Council and the European Commission, has stated that “The EU is ridiculing itself in the same way that the travel warning issued by Turkey for Germany is taking a jibe at the EU. It is clear that we cannot currently update the Customs Union agreement and we need to explain this to the Turkish public very clearly: They need us more than we need them. On the other hand, imposing economic sanctions on the country might also work.”

French member of European Parliament Edouard Ferrand, who has accused Turkish government of aiding terrorist groups, said the negotiations with Ankara should not have been launched in the first place, adding that the bloc should rather look for different ways to forge a relationship with Turkey, calling the latter an “important country.”

Polish MEP Janusz Korwin-Mikke said, “There is a new Kurdistan on the Turkish border and the Turkish army is poised for an attack. The EU must impel Turkey to reach an agreement [with the PYD].

Romanian MEP Cristian Dan Preda has noted that it is the third time this year that the EP discusses EU-Turkey relations and that they need to make a decision soon. He said that the bloc needs to figure out what they will do if they scrap Turkey’s accession and what goals they will have as EU.

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said on Wednesday that the Turkish government is providing the basis for its EU accession negotiations to collapse by distancing itself from the European Union. Speaking at the European Parliament on Wednesday, Junker said Turkey will not become a member of the bloc in the foreseeable future as Ankara has for some considerable time been moving away from the European Union in leaps and bounds.

He said the attitude of the country’s government “rules out EU membership for Turkey in the foreseeable future.” Criticizing the Turkish government for arresting Turkish and foreign journalists, Junker blamed Ankara for strained relations with some EU member countries and urged Turkish leaders to stop calling those EU states fascists and Nazis.

On Tuesday European Commissioner for Neighborhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations Johannes Hahn also criticized Turkey and said there is an urgent need for the negative trend in Turkey to be reversed for the reciprocal engagement between Turkey and the EU to be sustainable.

“The high representative and I made it clear to all Turkish counterparts that there is an urgent need for the current trend to be reversed if we want our reciprocal engagement to be sustainable. This goes for the domestic situation, with continued dismissals, suspensions and arrests but equally so for bilateral relations between Turkey and some EU member states.”

Turkey’s relations with a number of EU member states have become strained due to human rights violations and arrests in Turkey following a failed coup last year. Turkey survived a military coup attempt on July 15, 2016 that killed 249 people. Turkey’s Justice Ministry announced on July 13 that 50,510 people have been arrested and 169,013 have been the subject of legal proceedings on coup charges since the failed coup.

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