Als Turkijerapporteur namens het Europees Parlement presenteerde ik op 20 januari 2015 het jaarlijkse voortgangsrapport over Turkije in de Buitenlandcommissie van het Europees Parlement. Klik hier om het rapport te lezen:
Hieronder de tekst van mijn presentatie. Voor de video, klik hier.
Dear Chair, dear colleagues,
We are discussing the European Parliament’ annual report on Turkey just one week after we adopted a resolution expressing our united condemnation of recent events, curtailing the freedom of expression in the country. The recent launch of an investigation by Turkish prosecutors into the newspaper Cumhuriyet for publishing extracts from the latest edition of Charlie Hebdo, shows that press freedom needs to be protected. In general, during the last 2,5 years, the focus of our concerns has been increasingly on matters touching the core values of the EU, and therewith also the core of the negotiation process between the EU and Turkey, namely the respect for the rule of law, fundamental values and human rights. Turkish people should have the right to peacefully protest, express their opinions freely, unite in labour unions, and gender equality must be realized.
While we have also seen some very positive developments – where I would especially point out the efforts made by the Turkish governments to find a solution to the Kurdish issue by engaging in settlement talks with the PKK and the resilience shown by the constitutional system, as was proved by some important decisions taken by the Constitutional Court of Turkey-, the overall picture is more bleak in terms of democratic reforms – especially when comparing it to the years before. I have also underlined in the report my concern about the high degree of political polarization in Turkey.
At the same time, we also see the need for more and more intensive cooperation on a number of issues between the EU and Turkey. There is a strategic partnership in economic and energy security terms, and a clear need for more intensive cooperation on foreign policy issues and the fight against terrorism – as was yesterday also clearly underlined by the EU ministers of foreign affairs.
Without any doubt, Turkey and the EU are strategic partners. And when there are problems in a relationship with such an important partner, it means we don’t just walk away and isolate the country, but we step up our engagement. The unique situation with Turkey is that it is a candidate country, we have many more tools available for engagement than for instance is the case with countries part of the European Neighbourhood. Therefore, in my report, I plea to use all available tools in the negotiation process in order to engage and to give Turkey the possibility to show that it is still truly committed to democratic reforms.
Therefore, I also thankfully build on the excellent job done by my predecessor, Ria Oomen-Ruijten, by continuing this Parliament’s call to open chapters 23 and 24 – as we all believe that reforms in the area of the judiciary, fundamental rights, justice and freedoms and security are urgently needed. I strongly believe this is the best way to promote truly effective reforms and to ensure that the reform process in Turkey is shaped on the basis of European values and standards.
Other tools to step up our engagement with Turkey and to use our leverage positively is by targeting IPA funding, to reinforce the Kurdish settlement process, to support Civil Society Organisations working on rule of law and media freedom; to upgrade the Customs Union – as recommended by the World Bank in a recent evaluation; complement a political dialogue by a regular, structured, high level economic dialogue on issues of common concern, including trade relations with third countries and by providing financial support for humanitarian aid to Syrian refugees in Turkey.
There are also many opportunities available for the Turkish government to show, in the coming months, its genuine commitment to democratic reforms. The constitutional reform process can be used to promote a pluralistic, inclusive and tolerant society. A new constitution should be based on a widespread consensus across the political spectrum and in society as a whole; the government is also encouraged to set up structured civil society consultation mechanisms as part of the legislative and policy making processes; Ankara can continue to work on reaching the opening benchmarks of those 3 chapters that are not blocked from the EU side.
The fact that the Turkish government has still not implemented the provisions stemming from the EC-Turkey Association Agreement and the Additional Protocol thereto, is putting a heavy burden on the EU-Turkey accession process. I therefore hope for the resumption of negotiations in Cyprus under the auspices of the UN to resume as soon as possible, as this Parliament has always strongly supported the reunification of Cyprus, on the basis of a fair, comprehensive and viable settlement for both communities in accordance with relevant UN Security Council resolutions.
In line with earlier texts of this Parliament, I have continued to use the hard-fought compromise found in this House to refer to the EU-Turkey accession process: “having regard to the fact that the accession negotiations with Turkey were opened on 3 October 2005 and that the opening of such negotiations is the starting point for a long-lasting and open-ended process based on fair and rigorous conditionality and a commitment to reform.” By sticking to this formulation, I hope we can concentrate the debate on the content of the negotiation process.
I am looking forward to your input and would kindly like to ask you to focus the debate on how we can reinvigorate the engagement with Turkey – as we all share concerns about certain internal developments in the country, but also believe that it is in our joint interest that Turkey continues to implement democratic reforms and that the EU becomes the main anchor of this process by promoting European values and standards as benchmarks for the reform process.