We’re waiting for Erdoğan’s signal on EU accession: EP delegates

We’re waiting for Erdoğan’s signal on EU accession: EP delegates

Pınar Erdoğan - ANKARA
We’re waiting for Erdoğan’s signal on EU accession: EP delegates

AA photo

The Socialists and Democrats Group in the European Parliament has urged Turkey’s government to take the Venice Commission’s report on constitutional referendum into consideration, while noting that the opening of any new accession chapters depends on the actions of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

“We are waiting for a signal from Erdoğan to open new chapters,” the group’s president, Gianni Pitella, said May 11 after a two-day visit to Ankara by a delegation from the group.

“He has to release prisoners; he has to create a positive mood. And in this case, we will be ready first to open new chapters. We will work on the full membership of Turkey. We are against other possible solutions such as special partnership,” he said, referring to a reduced relationship long championed by German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

“The outcome of the referendum has to be respected, but we share the request of the Venice Commission to have an independent verification of the several irregularities which have been denounced. If President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan decides to implement some critical points of the constitutional reforms, the negotiation for accession will necessarily be suspended,” Pitella said.

The critical points include the president’s authority to nominate constitutional judges, reduce the power of the parliament with the authority to annul parliament and override parliamentary laws with presidential decrees, Pitella said.

The Venice Commission of the Council of Europe prepared a report on March 10 regarding the April 16 constitutional referendum, warning that the changes would usher in a “one-person regime.” The report said that “by removing necessary checks and balances, the amendments would not follow the model of a democratic presidential system based on the separation of powers, and instead would risk degeneration into an authoritarian presidential system.”

Pitella also stated that they were in favor of Turkey’s full accession to the European Union but were harboring concerns in the wake of the July 2016 attempted coup.

“We have always been one or even the only one in favor of the accession of Turkey to the EU. But we cannot be blind. Thousands and thousands of arrests of lawyers, politicians, journalists and ordinary citizens without any real evidence of guilt is the wrong and unacceptable direction to reach the goal of European accession,” he added.

Visit to sister parties

During his trip, Pitella visited the Socialists and Democrats Group’s sister parties, the Republican People’s Party (CHP) and the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), which focuses on the Kurdish issue.

As part of his visits, Pitella first met CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu and the CHP group on May 11.

The latest discussions on the reinstatement of capital punishment were also discussed during the meeting, with Pitella saying the death penalty would be a “red line” for them.

After the meeting, CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu said his party said the continuation of negotiations would help accelerate normalization.

The CHP also has concerns about the president’s authority to nominate constitutional judges, reduce the power of parliament and issue presidential decrees, Kılıçdaroğlu said.

“We also have concerns about these three points. But to cut Turkey-EU relations is not right. That’s why you should continue your support. If the negotiations with the EU continue, and relations continue, normalization in the country can be achieved,” Kılıçdaroğlu said. 

Visit to HDP co-leader Demirtaş’s trial

Pitella also visited the HDP and delivered a letter to the party to be sent to Selahattin Demirtaş, an imprisoned co-leader of the party, reflecting his feelings of solidarity, while also attending a hearing of one of Demirtaş’s many trials.

“We came here to meet with one of our sister parties and to express our solidarity to our comrade Demirtaş. This solidarity is not just for Demirtaş, it is also for all thousands of people who are in prison now. In a civilized country, it is unacceptable that lawyers, politicians and ordinary people [are sent] to jail without reason,” Pitella said.

Pitella also expressed his solidarity with two dismissed educators, Nuriye Gülmen and Semih Özakça, who entered the 65th day of a hunger strike on May 12 as they struggle to return to their jobs after being expelled as part of the state of emergency.