Rejected European Parliament rapporteur hopes for fruitful talks in Turkey in future
Cansu Çamlıbel - ISTANBULThe cancellation of the visit of a European Parliament delegation to Turkey after Ankara refused to see one member “is a temporary thing,” Kati Piri, the European Parliament’s rapporteur who Turkey rejected.
“Politics is not about agreeing with each other. You can have disagreements. Our door remains open. I hope very much that what happened now with this visit is a temporary thing. I hope in the future I can also have fruitful talks with my Turkish counterparts,” Piri told daily Hürriyet.
The EU lawmakers cancelled the visit after Piri was refused due to her recent remarks on the possibility of halting Turkey’s EU membership bid. In a statement, it said the European Parliament cannot allow Turkey to have “a pick-and-choose approach on who speaks to whom.”
Piri said she represented the majority opinion in the European Parliament, including eight political groups. Even though her position for keeping Ankara anchored to the EU had not changed, “We have to have a reaction against the ways things are unfolding in Turkey,” she said.
“We can at the moment continue dialogue but not on accession. We should freeze those talks because at this moment it is not credible to talk about Turkey being integrated in the EU while all these things are unfolding. I am not calling for a formal stop of accession talks … But for us at this moment looking at all the events we have to freeze the accession part,” Piri added.
She noted that “everyone had many different opinions and assessments” of what is happening in Turkey, but talks about how Ankara can integrate in the EU were not credible at present.
“Week after week things have been going in a worse direction... Turkey is declining in all of the rule of law indexes and freedom of media indexes … Until we see a reversal of this decline it is not credible to talk about opening new chapters or taking new initiatives,” Piri said.
On the formal suspension of talks, Piri recalled that the European Parliament, together with the European Commission and the Council of Europe, has said formally suspending negotiations would happen if the death penalty is reintroduced.
Ankara is currently mulling reinstating the death penalty in a constitutional package and putting it to a public vote in a referendum, but Piri described such a move as crossing a “red line” in Turkey’s relations with Europe.
“The European Commission and member states have also reiterated this to the European Parliament. One thing is for sure: A reintroduction of the death penalty would lead to triggering a formal suspension,” she said.
Piri noted that the leverage of both Ankara and Brussels over each other has “disappeared” in recent months.
“We have come to this point and we have to talk about what would happen in the worst case scenario, where will would have to stop accession talks,” she said.
“Any ideas are always welcome on how we could improve these relations. I think the most important thing is to see things starting to normalize in Turkey, to see the rule of law being respected and legal cases starting up,” Piri said, adding that this would make it easier for EU counterparts to have a more fruitful dialogue with Turkey.