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 an important partner 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 used disproportionate and unjustified repression against Turkish citizens and moved Turkey's democracy towards a more authoritarian system. The situation has deteriorated even further with the constitutional referendum to give the president sweeping new powers – narrowly voted through in a highly unfair election environment – and while Erdoğan continues to take this approach Turkey cannot join the EU.
As long as the Turkish authorities undermine democracy and the rule of law, talks on Turkey joining the EU must be suspended, but we will continue to stand by all those fighting for democracy and fundamental rights in Turkey.