No link between EU-Turkey accession talks and refugee action plan, say S&Ds
Following today’s discussion and the vote in the foreign affairs committee on the 2015 report on Turkey, S&D MEP and EP rapporteur Kati Piri said:
"The European Parliament is concerned that the overall pace of reforms in Turkey has slowed down and in key areas, such as freedom of expression and the independence of the judiciary, there has been a very worrying regression.
"We express our grave concern about the escalation of violence in the South-East of Turkey which has caused almost 400,000 people to leave their houses. While strongly condemning PKK´s return to violence, the Parliament calls for talks on the settlement of the Kurdish question to be restarted.
"On migration, we praise Turkey for the burden they have been carrying by hosting the largest refugee population in the world. Whilst underlining that Turkey is a key strategic partner for the EU and a more structured and frequent political dialogue on key thematic issues is of joint interest, we believe the talks on migration should be de-coupled from the accession negotiations."
Richard Howitt MEP, S&D Group foreign affairs coordinator and member of the EU-Turkey joint parliamentary committee, added:
"Today's European Parliament vote shows support for moving towards visa-free access to the Schengen area for Turkey and for opening new EU accession negotiation “chapters” in their own right, unconnected to current negotiations over the refugee crisis.
"Equally it clearly shows that that any cooperation on refugees must also be justified on its own merits, and that Europe cannot and will not be silenced about regression in democracy and human rights in Turkey."