European Parliament rapporteur calls on Turkey for more alignment on foreign policy

European Parliament rapporteur calls on Turkey for more alignment on foreign policy

Sevil Erkuş - ANKARA
European Parliament rapporteur calls on Turkey for more alignment on foreign policy

Kati Piri (C) speaks during a press conference in Ankara on Dec. 11. AA Photo

The European Parliament’s new rapporteur for Turkey has urged the country to intensify cooperation on foreign policy coordination and cooperation, calling on it to support the European Union’s sanctions on Russia.

“We have taken up very clear positions when it comes to our current position on Russia. It’s very important to have a high-level dialogue and involvement on this issue with Turkey,” said Kati Piri, who made the comments in the wake of EU High Representative Federica Mogherini’s call on Ankara to “improve alignment on foreign policy and security policy.”

“On foreign policy, Turkey is a very important, independent actor in a volatile region. Nobody expects at this stage full alignment with the EU’s foreign policy. However, we should act together in the same direction and create synergies where possible,” Piri told reporters on Dec. 11 after discussions with government officials, opposition party representatives and members of civil society.

For that purpose, she stressed more frequent high-level talks and more consultations on foreign policy.

With regard to President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s frequent references to religion, Piri said the issue was an internal matter of Turkey “as long as there is respect toward all citizens of Turkey whether religious, secular or from a minority.”

Elaborating on the Turkish government’s new, much-criticized security package, the rapporteur stressed police violence should be restricted. “Violence by police can only be used at the last resort. We very much stress that this should be reflected in this type of legislation,” she said, adding that the European Parliament will continue to call for the opening of chapters 23 and 24, which deal with security issues.

After her meetings in Istanbul and Ankara, Piri said she was impressed with the commitment of civil society on fostering reforms in Turkey. “At the meeting with government and opposition members in Ankara, I was pleased to hear that further reforms are needed and civil society should be closely involved with this,” she added.

Piri cited reform of the judiciary and a new legal framework on fundamental freedoms as examples of the necessary reforms.

On the issue of reforms, she called on the government to reach out to the opposition. “The opposition should equally be aware of its responsibility to be part of the reform process and to influence it in a constructive way,” she said.