EU enlargement and integration with our European neighbours remains a strong and credible EU policy with reforms and the rule of law at its centre. Despite the financial crisis and negative populist campaigns, the S&Ds remain strongly in favour of the EU's enlargement to strengthen our ties with our near neighbours – as long as they respect our values.
We believe the EU must maintain the political momentum behind enlargement in the Western Balkans. We support states getting candidate status and opening accession negotiations as soon as they meet the required criteria, and strict but fair conditionality should be applied. The S&Ds are particularly committed to ensuring social challenges are a priority, with the aim of strengthening social justice across Europe. In this spirit, we continue to strengthen our co-operation with social-democratic parties in the region, which are the most consistently pro-European forces.
Turkey is one of our most important partners and we want to see Turkey committed to Europe, to democracy and to the rule of law. But since the failed military coup d'état President Erdoğan has been moving Turkey's democracy towards a more authoritarian system and using disproportionate and unjustified repression against Turkish citizens – we cannot continue as if nothing happened.
We want to see respect for the rule of law and human rights restored sooner rather than later. As long as the Turkish authorities continue to neglect and undermine democracy and the rule of law, we will continue our dialogue but freeze the talks on Turkey joining the EU.