European Socialists and Democrats stress the importance of today's adoption, by the European Parliament, of the progress report on Turkey, and consider that the negotiation process must continue and be accelerated. The Group underlines the need for more democracy, especially in the areas of freedom of expression, freedom of media, the rule of law and the rights of minorities. S&Ds call on Turkish authorities to fully adopt European values and the Copenhagen criteria.
S&D MEP and EP rapporteur on Turkey, Kati Piri, said:
"Today the EU and Turkey are facing many of the same challenges and we need each other in order to find joint solutions. But the backsliding in the rule of law and media freedom in Turkey will have to stop and reforms resumed. We believe that Turkey has to return to a path where journalists are not imprisoned for doing their job, where academics don't lose their jobs for expressing their views and where judges do not hesitate to rule due to fear of being displaced or fired.
"The situation in the South East of Turkey is of great concern to us. We call for the settlement process to be re-launched as there is no military solution for the Kurdish question. Regarding migration, we praise the Turkish citizens for hosting the largest refugee population in the world. It is time that the EU engages in genuine burden sharing and starts with a large scale resettlement programme of refugees to EU countries."
S&D vice-president for foreign affairs, neighbourhood policy and enlargement, Knut Fleckenstein MEP, said:
"We clearly condemn the intimidation of journalists in all its forms, the violent and illegal take-over of several newspapers and highlight the serious backsliding on freedom of speech, expression and opinion over the past two years.
"Turkey, in order to facilitate its accession negotiation process, should fully align itself with European values, principles and criteria.
"A new constitution should improve and guarantee a secular state with full respect of the freedom of expression and rights of minorities.
"We reiterate our call on Turkey to normalise its relations with all EU member states, including the Republic of Cyprus."
S&D MEP and vice-president for foreign affairs, Victor Boştinaru, said:
"We shall assess today the stalemate of Turkey's accession to the EU, which, unfortunately, has also contributed to a slowdown in the pace of reforms and in the respect for the rule of law and fundamental values in Turkey. I am deeply worried about the serious deterioration, in the last two years, of the freedom of speech, expression and opinion in the country.
"Therefore, I strongly encourage, yet again, the Council and the Commission to open chapters 23 and 24! Simultaneously, I urge Turkey to continue the reform process; to resolve outstanding bilateral issues with its neighbours and to play a constructive role in the Cyprus negotiations. The success of these negotiations is important for the EU and I believe also for Turkey.
"There is no doubt over the necessity for deepening our cooperation with Turkey in order to solve the current refugee and migration crisis. This being said, I have important concerns about certain aspects of the latest EU-Turkey deal. We have to ensure that the rights of all asylum seekers are well respected in Turkey and in the EU, that both sides are facilitating the work of UNHCR and that article 51 of the Geneva Convention is fully applied."