The EU and Turkey have maintained a strategic partnership for decades and have been negotiating Turkey's accession into the EU since 2005. But recently, relations have been rocky as concerns mount over the state of democracy in Turkey. MEPs are keeping a close eye on developments in the country, with accession talks at stake if conditions deteriorate.
Relations between the European Union and Turkey have gotten frosty. But it hasn't always been like this. The two strategic partners work closely together in trade, security, and more recently, in managing migration flows. Negotiations on Turkey's accession into the EU have been ongoing since 2005. So, what's caused the tension between the two sides as of late? MEPs are increasingly worried about the violation of fundamental rights in Turkey. After a failed coup last year, Turkish president Erdogan declared a state of emergency, which is still in place. Lawyers, academics, journalists have been arrested; civil society groups and media outlets shut down. You cannot just sit around, wait. The EU has to speak out and that is what this Parliament is doing. In November 2016, Parliament called for a temporary freeze on EU accession talks if things didn't improve. Erdogan won a constitutional referendum in 2017, granting the presidency sweeping new powers. If Turkey would reintroduce the death penalty again, if they bring this constitutional package into force, there can be no other consequence than to stop talking about integrating Turkey into the EU. That doesn't mean we should stop all forms of cooperation. MEPs are keeping a close eye on developments in the country, and will push for suspension of accession talks if conditions deteriorate.