The AKP-Erdoğan government is fully responsible for the European Parliament’s critical resolution on Turkey

The EP resolution of 6 July 2017 on the 2016 Commission Report on Turkey (2016/2308) was approved by 477 against 64 votes. The resolution calls on the EU Commission and the EU national governments “to formally suspend the accession negotiations with Turkey without delay if the constitutional reform package is implemented unchanged.”

Emphasizing how the AKP government’s constitutional referendum violates the rule of law and the separation of powers, the report, among other critical issues,

·         strongly condemns the imprisonment of eleven HDP deputies, including our Co-chairs Mr Selahattin Demirtaş and Ms Figen Yüksekdağ, as well as eighty-five Kurdish co-mayors.

·         condemns Turkish government’s disproportionate response to the abortive coup, resulting in large-scale dismissal of civil servants, the closure of media outlets, the arrest of journalists, judges, human rights defenders, the closure of schools and universities, confiscation of properties, etc.

·         supports the initiation of negotiations for upgrading the EU-Turkey Customs Union, while calling on the European Commission to make human rights and fundamental freedoms a key conditionality for the upgrading.

This resolution was approved by the support of vast majority of political party groups at the EP who had previously supported Turkey’s full membership to the EU. This reveals how severely the AKP government has damaged Turkey’s and its own credibility and reputation.

The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) has previously reopened the monitoring procedure for Turkey on 25 April 2017. These successive decisions of European institutions point to the growing tension and latest state of relations between Turkey and European institutions.

The current volatility in Turkey-Europe relations is a result of authoritarian politics of oppression and violence of the Erdoğan-AKP government particularly over the last two years. The government has increased its pressures on democratic politics and society with the declaration of emergency rule on 20 July 2016, which has turned Turkey into a cemetery for human rights and fundamental freedoms. Currently there is no rule of law, no separation of powers, and no independent judiciary in the country.

We find the Erdoğan-AKP government as fully responsible for this resolution by the European Parliament. In 2005, when negotiations for full membership to the EU started, then Prime Minister Erdoğan promised the people of Turkey that all the reforms would be implemented within the framework of the Copenhagen Criteria. Today, twelve years later, he accuses the European Union and many member states of being “supporters of terrorism.” Unfortunately, it is the diverse peoples of Turkey who are paying the price for President Erdoğan’s utterly wrong foreign policies with respect to the EU.

We condemn the AKP government’s attitude that ignores criticisms and disregards calls for the rule of law, the protection of freedoms and respect for human rights, which have been repeatedly emphasized in multiple reports of the European Parliament, European Commission, the Venice Commission and Human Rights Commissioner of the Council of Europe, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, the office of UN High Commissioner for Human Rights as well as various renowned national and international human rights organizations. The AKP-Erdoğan government has decisively chosen to not listen to the criticisms and recommendations in these reports.

Under current circumstances and if the AKP-Erdoğan government does not positively respond to the criticisms and recommendations included in the resolution, the HDP supports the formal suspension of the accession negotiations. If it ever happens, this suspension should be temporary and conditional upon the government’s performance in the field of human rights and democracy. The AKP-Erdoğan government and Turkey should not be confused with each other. We believe that the majority of peoples of Turkey do want improvement of Turkey’s relations with the EU. Therefore, the HDP is critical of the argument to replace the framework of full membership with “strategic partnerships with Turkey in specific fields,” such as trade, security, and immigration. Even if it does not seem to be realistic now, full membership should be the ultimate goal of Turkey-EU relationships. Therefore, the HDP will keep urging the Turkish government to initiate without delay a new policy in line with the Copenhagen Criteria both inside and outside the country rather than confronting Europe with ultra-nationalist, populist and often-xenophobic rhetoric.

Hişyar Özsoy
Peoples’ Democratic Part
Vice Co-chair Responsible for Foreign Affairs
MP for Bingöl
7 July 2017