MEPs urge freeze of EU-Turkey accession negotiations as Cyprus talks stalled
Members of the European Parliament have urged the European Commission and member states to impose a temporary freeze on EU accession talks with Turkey, but the door for dialogue should remain open, unless Turkey introduces capital punishment. A resolution will be put to a vote on Thursday.
The decision follows Monday’s deadlock in the talks on Cyprus, with Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci blaming the Greek Cypriot side for stalling the process.
In a debate with EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini, Manfred Weber, head of the centre-right European People’s Party said, “No business as usual with Turkey, we support a freeze of EU accession negotiations.”
He said he urges his group to freeze relations as negotiations cannot continue under these circumstances and if the death penalty is imposed, then Turkey cannot become a member of the EU. We want a Turkey that is stable and democratic, he added.
Gianni Pittella, leader of the Socialist group, the second biggest in the assembly, added: “Turkey’s EU accession talks must be temporarily frozen. There are not the conditions to proceed now.”
He said that under prime Minister Recep Tayip Erdogan, Turkey is becoming an authoritarian regime and said that his message to Turkey is that human rights, civil rights and democracy are non-negotiable if you want to be part of the EU.
Liberal leader Guy Verhofstadt said that his group too was “asking to suspend the negotiations with Turkey.”
Cypriot MEPs also urged for freezing accession negotiations with Turkey and even called for economic sanctions to be imposed.
DISY/EPP member Lefteris Christoforou said the EU must acknowledge that there was been a longterm tolerance, impunity and favouritism towards Turkey by the EU. Human rights, he said, are violated by Turkey in an EU member state, Cyprus, as it is under invasion and occupation.
He said that Turkey is to blame for the collapse of the talks in Mont Pelerin on Cyprus and that it is the occupation force that created the Cyprus problem and the only one that can solve it in 24 hours. It is high time the EU and other powers to exert real pressure to force it to solve the Cyprus problem.
In his intervention, Takis Hadjigeorgiou, member of AKEL and the European United Left–Nordic Green Left (GUE/NGL) said that the European Parliament would have lost the last shred of dignity if it did not take action.
Demetris Papadakis, member of the Socialist EDEK and Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats (S&D) said now is the time to see what kind of a Turkey we want and whether our attitude so far has helped to have a democratic Turkey. He said that we want a democratic Turkey that will respect the rights of its citizens, respect the sovereignty of its neighbourhood states and will not occupy smaller states in its region.
European Conservatives and Reformists member Eleni Theoharous, head of the Solidarity party called for sanctions against Turkey.
She said that Cypriots are not demanding anything more than European citizens enjoy, that is respect of human rights.
Costas Mavrides of DIKO and the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats (S&D), in a written intervention to the debate, said that the resolution which the MEPs are discussing contains language in the right direction but it comes years late.
Freezing accession chapters would have had substantive pressure on Turkey if it was accompanied by a change in democratic institutions. Today’s development albeit sends a political message, it does not exert any meaningful pressure on the Erdogan regime. He proposed the way to put pressure on Turkey is to impose economic sanctions.
Meanwhile, the UN announced that the Secretary General will be briefed by his Special Advisor on Cyprus Espen Barth Eide and they will see what is the best way forward in order to deploy the Secretary-General’s personal efforts, a UN Spokesman told the reporters on Tuesday in New York.
“While the intensive talks in Mont Pelerin didn’t achieve the desired outcome, the SG is confident that the two leaders will rise above the current challenges in the process,” Stephane Dujarric said.
“He is also hopeful that they will continue to work tirelessly as they have done so far towards reaching a settlement within 2016, for the benefit of all Cypriots. The UN and the SG personally they will continue to support these efforts,” he noted.
The comments came hours after talks on the issue of territory between President Nicos Anastasiades and Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci failed to yield an agreement on the criteria relating to territorial adjustments, a development which would have taken the peace process forward.
“It is important that we look forward towards a constructive future,” a UN spokesperson in Cyprus told CNA. The UN, he added, “do not want to play the blame game.”