MEPs have voted in favour of freezing Turkey’s EU membership talks, passing a non-binding resolution in Strasbourg. But what impact could this have on the migrant deal struck with Ankara?
We have clear Copenhagen criteria, and we should judge an accession country based on that and not on the fear of what might happen if we are criticising.
Euronews correspondent Sandor Zsiros asked Kati Piri, rapporteur for Turkey at the European Parliament, whether she feared that President Recep Tayyip Erdogan would now open the gates.
Kati Piri: “Let’s be honest, the moment this deal was made, my concern was that the EU leaders decided to look away from the human rights abuses taking place in Turkey.
“We are concerned for the last three years with what’s happening there, when it comes to media freedom, when it comes to the rule of law, human rights, the rights of minorities. For three years, we see a backlash and since the 15th of July, it’s getting worse.
“Now, I don’t say that we shouldn’t make agreements with Turkey on energy, on foreign affairs, on stemming the migration, on taking, helping the Turkish population to deal with the three million refugees in Turkey.
“I think even the EU should do much more when it comes to the EU-Turkey deal because we promised also to take the most vulnerable refugees and give them a safe passage to Europe, which we are not doing at this moment.
“But with an accession country, we have clear Copenhagen criteria, and we should judge an accession country based on that and not on the fear of what might happen if we are criticising.
“So whatever might happen, I think it’s our duty as members of this parliament to speak out when our colleagues are in jail, when 145 of your colleagues are in jail and when 10 thousands of people are affected without any form of remedy, legal remedy.”
Euronews: “Mr Erdogan just mentioned that Turkey should join an alliance with China and Russia, instead of the European Union. Aren’t you afraid that after these statements, there is no chance to get back to the dialogue about the common values?”
Kati Piri: “Well, we have difficult dialogue. I mean it’s clear, it’s clear from the parliament’s side, but I think also from the Council’s side, that the dialogue was getting more and more strained because we are drifting away from one another.
“Nevertheless, the Turkish population is linked to the West for the last 60 years. Turkey is a member of NATO for 60 years. We have relations between the EU and its predecessors and Turkey for 53 years. The Turkish population is not looking to the East, it’s looking to the West.
“So this is one man speaking. Yes, he’s the most powerful man in Turkey, but the Turkish population has so far always been supportive of keeping Turkey anchored to the EU. That’s also my wish.
“We did not change our position in Turkey, we are simply reacting to what’s ongoing, what this government and their actions, what they are doing.”