The Nato, the EU, and trade – Turkey have enjoyed a productive relationship in many domains for decades. However, recently relations have turned reserved as concerns mount over the state of democracy, rule of law, and freedoms in the country where media outlets were shut down and journalists jailed. MEPs reflect upon the developments and raise quetions if it is a moment to rethink the format of the EU cooperation with Turkey.
Relations hit a new low with the referendum in Turkey on 16 April to give the president additional powers, which could disrupt the balance of powers in the country.
Turkey has been an associate member of the European Economic Community since 1963 and applied to join in 1987. It was recognised as a candidate for EU membership in 1999, but negotiations didn’t start until 2005. So far 16 out of 35 chapters have been opened and only one has been closed. Last November MEPs adopted a resolution asking for the negotiations to be temporarily suspended while repression continues in Turkey.
“The European Union does not intend in any way to close the door to the Turkish people, who remain our friends.” At the same time we cannot look the other way when events proceed in the opposite way of European construction. “Freedom of the press, freedom of expression, are vital rights for anyone wanting to join the European Union and the death penalty, similarly, is an inviolable red line,” – said the EP president Antonio Tajani, during the debate on the situation in Turkey on 26 April in the plenary session, Brussels.