EU-Turkey cooperation on migration not to be linked to EU accession negotiation, say the MEPs

Against the background of the criticised EU-Turkey political agreement on irregular migration of March 2016, EU Parliamentarians adopted a non-binding resolution supporting the engagement between the two entities on the refugee and migration crisis but also underlining that EU-Turkey cooperation on migration should not be linked to EU accession negotiation process.

The text was adopted by 375 votes in favour, 133 against and 87 abstentions. All the pro-EU groups, the Christian-Democrats, the Socialists, the Liberals and the Greens, voted in favour of the resolution. Interestingly, the Bulgarians, the Cypriots and Greeks Members of both the EPP and S&D group abstained.

Furthermore, in the EPP, part of the Czech and Slovakian delegations opposed the common line of their EU group together with the French members, that also abstained in the Liberal group ALDE.

In the Conservative group, the British Tories voted in favour of the text and against the majority of the group that voted against the motion.

All the members from the group of Nigel Farage EFDD and the far-right group ENF voted against the text, whereas the members of the radical left group GUE-NGL abstained.

The resolution praises Turkey for hosting the largest refugee population in the world and states that the country is a strategic partner for the EU. However, MEPs are also concerned by the status of democracy and rule of law in Turkey. The text denounces that there has been a regression in certain key areas, such as the independence of the judiciary, freedom of assembly and of expression, respect for human rights and the rule of law. These developments are moving away Turkey from meeting the Copenhagen criteria that candidate countries must observe.

In particular, the personal attacks by leading Turkish authorities against journalists and opponents as well as the increasingly authoritarian tendencies of the Turkish leadership are strongly condemned.

Regarding the EU accession negotiating process, the motion takes note of its renewal. Members hopes that the opening of chapters will lead to concrete progress, therefore the call on Turkey for concrete progress and a genuine commitment.

In this connection, the resolution requests both the Commission and the Council to follow closely the internal developments in Turkey and to clearly stand up for the respect of the rule of law and fundamental rights in the country, irrespective of other interests.

Turkey’s relations with neighbouring EU Member States.

It is asked to the Turkish authorities to end the repeated violations of Greek airspace and territorial waters. Through the motion, the MEPs expressed their disappointment on the casus belli threat declared by the Turkish Grand National Assembly against Greece, as this has not been withdrawn yet.

Concerning Cyprus, the text praises the progress achieved in the reunification talks and urges the Turkish authorities to be supportive of the process as the non-resolution of the Cyprus issue affects the development of EU-Turkey relations.

Recognition of Armenian Genocide

An amendment (AM 10) drafted by the far-right ENF group, calling on Turkey to recognise the Armenian Genocide, was rejected by MEPs. 159 voted in favour of the provision, whereas 431 opposed and 32 abstained. All the members of the Conservative, the Eurosceptic and far-right groups voted in favour.

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