Jun 26 2018

European Parliament groups slam Turkey’s democratic failings

Turkey’s democratic failing have been highlighted in a series of statements released by the European Parliament (EP), following the conclusion of presidential and parliamentary elections in Turkey over the weekend.

Turkey could no longer be called a democracy, said Renate Sommer, a German MEP and shadow Turkey rapporteur for the EP’s Christian Democrats. In comments made to Ahval, he drew attention to the executive presidential system that came into force following the elections, saying it will allow Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to bypass parliament and rule by decree.

“The president will appoint judges to the constitutional court,” he said, “The EU cannot ignore this. A country that clearly sets aside the European Union’s (EU’s) core values cannot be a candidate country. Accession negotiations should immediately be terminated.”

He added that, from now on, the EU's only ties with Turkey should be via the Customs Union ― though given Turkey’s lack of respect for the rule of law and human rights, even the continuation of trading relations was problematic.

The Social Democrats, the second largest group in the EP, were similarly critical. The group’s president, Udo Bullman, expressed concern that Erdoğan was now aiming to consolidate an existing authoritarian system, demanding a return to the rule of law and the release of political prisoners.

The implementation of the presidential system in Turkey has made the suspension of Turkey’s EU membership bid unavoidable, said Kati Piri, the EU’s Turkey rapporteur, noting the thousands of prisoners awaiting fair trial in Turkey and asking that Erdoğan implement his electoral promise to lift Turkey’s state of emergency. 

The EP’s 60-member Turkey Platform group also weighed in, noting the absence of checks and balances in Turkey’s new presidential system, which will result in the erosion of the rule of law. They also called for the state of emergency to be ended.