With members of the European Parliament recently voting to freeze EU membership talks with Turkey, and subsequent threats from President Erdogan, questions are mounting over the future of Brussels-Ankara relations.
Euronews’ Efi Koutsokosta discussed this and other issues with Dimitris Avramopoulos, EU Commissioner for Migration.
Euronews: “Can you ignore the concerns expressed by the members of the European Parliament on human rights because of course after July and the failed military coup in Turkey, Erdogan has changed his attitude. So, can you ignore that and you just go on cooperating with them?”
Dimitris Avramopoulos: “We never ignore what the Parliament says but I want to remind you that this resolution is of (a) consultative nature.”
Euronews: “But it is a strong political message?”
Dimitris Avramopoulos: “No doubt. And it’s very, very clear. It’s good to know that the ongoing negotiations are conducted by the European Commission and of course following a mandate of the Council.”
Turkey ‘under huge pressure’
Euronews: “Sometimes we have the impression that the European Union needs Turkey, Erdogan knows that and he uses this power he has because of the migration crisis?”
Dimitris Avramopoulos: “We do not ignore the fact that Turkey is under huge pressure, under attack by ISIS (so-called Islamic State), under attack by PKK, every week there are terrorist attacks in Turkey and we are still in the aftermath of the attempted failed coup d’etat. So, the situation even internally, politically is quite volatile.
“But what we need as Europeans? A stable and democratic Turkey. A reliable interlocutor in order to address all these issues. From our side, and I am talking about Europe, Europe shows understanding towards Turkey. That’s why we have maintained and we tend to maintain this door of communication open.”