EU Turkey report: AKEL expresses concerns about negative provisions
Article by Neoclis Sylikiotis, AKEL MEP and Vice-President of the Confederal Group of the European United Left – Nordic Green Left GUE/NGL
17th July 2017
Last week Turkey’s annual Progress Report was approved by the European Parliament. This year’s report perceives the situation in Turkey in a more critical light than in previous years. It contained several positive elements, which must be noted. It is critical of Turkey’s domestic situation, particularly as regards the issue of freedom of speech and political freedoms. In fact, it stresses the attack on the opposition and its silencing, especially as regards the pro-Kurdish HDP party.
In addition, there are also strong references with regards the Cyprus problem, which must satisfy us, and which should be utilized in the perspective of achieving a solution that will rid us of the occupation and reunite our homeland. The report makes a clear reference to a solution based on a bi-zonal bi-communal federation with a single sovereignty, a single citizenship and a single international personality. Furthermore, it also calls for the return of Famagusta, the withdrawal of the occupation army and the termination of the colonialization (in the occupied areas).
The importance of including these elements in the European Parliament’s annual report is great, given that our goal right now should be to keep the effort to reunite our country and people alive within the framework of the United Nations and its resolutions, the High-Level Agreements, the convergences that have been achieved so far and the framework submitted by the UN Secretary-General António Guterres.
Nonetheless, we have expressed specific concerns about the negative elements contained in the report and about negative references that have been incorporated with the support of the big political Groups of the European Parliament, that is to say the European People’s Party and the Socialists and Democrats. Despite the efforts undertaken by GUE/NGL these references were not deleted.
Our main concerns were that Turkey’s accession negotiations must not be frozen only if the constitutional package Erdogan proposes (which was the position of the report too) was implemented. We consider that the accession negotiations must also be frozen if the ongoing attack on Turkish citizen’s democratic rights continues, as is the case today. It is imperative that the human rights of all citizens, let alone those who are struggling for peace and social justice, are safeguarded.
Furthermore, the negotiations for the upgrading of the Customs Union can only begin only when Turkey fully complies with all its obligations stemming from the current Customs Union. And these obligations should be implemented towards all EU Member States, including obviously the Republic of Cyprus. Finally, the visa liberalization for Turkish citizens will only proceed if Turkey implements all the criteria that are set out in the Roadmap without discriminations and if it fulfills all its obligations towards all the Member States of the Union.
Negative references that remain in the report harbor great dangers as far as the EU’s stand towards Turkey in the future is concerned, especially within the negative context created after the collapse of the talks at Crans Montana.
AKEL’s position is quite clear. Turkey’s accession course depends on the fulfillment of its obligations, particularly when these relate to the recognition of the Republic of Cyprus. This was in fact the position we have upheld as the Group of the Left in the European Parliament. Thus, despite the positive aspects of the report in question, primarily with regards the Cyprus problem, we could not support it as a Group and so we abstained in the vote. As long as Turkey does not recognize the Republic of Cyprus, its accession course cannot continue.
Intervention of Georgos Koukoumas, member of the C.C. of AKEL and the International Relations Department, at the Hearing “Palestine: What’s Next?” organized by GUE/NGL2015-07-1
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