“The Turkish government has deceived its own citizens. The constitutional changes are incompatible with the Copenhagen Criteria which is the non-negotiable basis for membership of the European Union. We consequently call to formally suspend - which de facto means the end of - accession negotiations if the constitutional reform package is implemented unchanged. The pre-accession funds should also be stopped simultaneously”, said Renate Sommer MEP, the EPP Group’s standing Rapporteur on Turkey ahead of the European Parliament’s vote on the 2016 progress report.
According to Sommer, the constitutional referendum last April which allowed for the shifting of the Turkish regime to an executive presidential system, was the last straw that broke the camel's back. It could, however, have been avoided if the European Parliament had not delayed the adoption of its position.
“I cannot understand why the Rapporteur delayed this year’s report to this date. It would have made much more sense if the European Parliament had already clearly pointed out the effects and consequences of the proposed constitutional amendments before the April referendum. Then, the Turkish voters would have known in time that a ‘yes’ to the presidential system meant a clear denial of the country's EU candidacy”, Sommer said.
She insisted, however, on the strategic importance of a close and privileged relationship between the EU and Turkey, based on the rule of law and on the respect of the fundamental freedoms and democratic values.
“We need to work together in the future and ensure that the report which is submitted to votes calls for the deepening of EU-Turkey relations in key areas of joint interest. The best idea would be to improve the customs union. But that is not a low-hanging fruit either. We are demanding conditionality provisions on the respect for democracy, the rule of law and fundamental rights”, she concluded.