February 22, 2012
Please see below today’s press release of PES President Sergei Stanishev on Turkey’s accession to the EU and responsibility of European & Turkish conservatives’ responsibility for the current impasse.
Twelve years after granting candidate status and six years after the start of accession negotiations, EU-Turkey relations are today at a virtual standstill. It is in the interest of Turkey and the EU that this process is reinvigorated. The goal is Turkish membership in the European Union. Accession must be an open-ended process with conditions, yes, but not with political vetoes. The European Socialist family is the political family most committed to EU integration and the enlargement process. Therefore the PES believes that it is crucial to launch a new EU-Turkey Agenda.
The right-wing majority in the EU and in Turkey, bear a major responsibility for the current impasse. EU conservatives’ leaders, Mrs Merkel in Germany and Mr. Sarkozy in France, have called for a “special partnership” instead of membership for Turkey. Their arguments against Turkish membership play on fears to keep Turkey out of the EU. As a result, this discourse has an impact on Turkish public opinion. Turkish citizens are, as a result, more and more disillusioned with the prospect of EU membership and less attracted by it. While EU membership had huge public support only a few years ago, that support has now dwindled.
In Turkey, the AKP government is no longer as committed to the goal of EU membership as it was in the past. We observe worrying trends in Turkey, jeopardizing democratic accountability time and time again. These AKP policies have consequently made Turkey less qualified for EU accession. It has resulted in a deterioration of the separation of powers, particularly on the independence of the judiciary, as well as a steady erosion of freedom of expression in Turkey. In addition, AKP’s impact on society as a whole is negatively affecting women’s rights and the LGBT community. There is growing intolerance regarding secular lifestyles.
EU Conservatives and AKP policies are weakening the chances of Turkey to become an EU member. Indeed, AKP is an observer member of the European People’s Party (EPP), sitting together with European conservatives that are ardent opponents of Turkey’s EU accession.
Turkey’s EU membership process must be revitalized. We must be committed to work with our member parties in Turkey and progressive women’s, youth and minority movements and to foster and facilitate their full participation in Turkey’s EU accession process in the different frameworks and institutions. Turkey’s democratic future is in Europe. Therefore I call for a Renewed EU-Turkey Agenda.