EU should formally suspend Turkey accession talks – rapporteur

The European Parliament should recommend that the EU formally suspend membership negotiations with Turkey because the process has lost all credibility, Kati Piri, the parliament's rapporteur on Turkey, said in an annual report.

“A red line has been crossed for the European Parliament,” Piri said on Wednesday, referring to the introduction of an all-powerful presidential system in Turkey at June elections.

“In its last report the European Parliament warned that it would propose a formal suspension of the accession talks if this indeed would happen. That is now the case,” Piri said.

Piri also referred to the jailing of more than 50,000 people, including journalists, politicians, bureaucrats, teachers and human rights defenders, since an attempted military coup in July 2016.

The European Council, made up of the bloc’s political leadership, is partly to blame for the situation in Turkey because it hasn’t taking up the parliament’s recommendations to open up some negotiating chapters with Turkey and engage in serious talks about democracy and the rule of law, Piri said.

“Now that there has been a stark regression in all these areas, the same Council refuses to draw a red line, although fully aware of the fact that in reality, accession talks have come to a complete standstill.”

However, Piri said that all tools should be used to keep Turkey anchored to the EU and its values, including upgrading the country’s Customs Union. The EU should link the upgrade, along with visa liberaliisation, to improvements in human rights and democracy in the country, she said.