“Turkey and the EU must intensify dialogue“, says EP Foreign Affairs Chairman McAllister
“Re-establishing trust and improving communication are crucial for improving EU-Turkey relations”, emphasised the Chairman of the European Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee, David McAllister, following the visit of a delegation of eight members of the Foreign Affairs Committee to Ankara and Mardin from 24 to 27 February 2020.
The Chairman emphasised the importance of dialogue between Turkey and the EU at all levels: “We may not always share the same views, but we must continue talking to each other. This is why we came to Turkey. It is also the reason why I have invited the Foreign Minister to address the Foreign Affairs Committee in Brussels or Strasbourg.”
“Turkey is an accession candidate and a key strategic partner for the EU, despite the current difficulties in our relations. The EU and Turkey continue to share many common challenges and interests. Therefore, we need to keep working with each other, for instance on foreign policy and regional challenges like Syria, the fight against terrorism, the economy and migration”, the Chairman said.
David McAllister emphasised that improvements in the area of the rule of law are required to get the accession process back on track. “Our expectation is clear: Turkey must take concrete steps to improve the rule of law and ensure the independence of the judiciary, freedom of the press and respect for human rights. It should also work towards good neighbourly relations with Cyprus. These issues are at the heart of the accession process. On the other hand, the EU should encourage reforms by maintaining a credible accession perspective. Turkey should be judged on the basis of the same objective criteria as any other candidate country.”
The delegation also visited an EU-funded migrant health centre in Mardin, one of 178 in Turkey funded through a EUR 300 million grant to the Turkish Ministry of Health under the Facility for Refugees in Turkey. The Members acknowledged Turkey’s commendable hospitality toward the 3,6 million Syrian refugees in the country. David McAllister said: “We owe gratitude to the Turkish people. Europe will not leave Turkey alone in shouldering this burden.”
The delegation met with Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs and Director for EU Affairs Ambassador Faruk Kaymakci, Minister of Interior Süleyman Soylu, Chair of the Republican People‘s Party Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, as well as with the Foreign Affairs Committee and the Chairs of the EU Harmonisation and Human Rights Committees and of the EU-Turkey Joint Parliamentary Committee. The parliamentarians also had meetings with the suspended mayor of Mardin, Ahmet Türk, the governor of Mardin, Mustafa Yaman, and various civil society representatives, including journalists, human rights lawyers and religious leaders. In Mardin, the Members of the European Parliament visited an EU-funded health project for Syrian refugees and the Deyrulzaferan Syriac Orthodox Monastery.
The main aim of the visit was to gauge the prospects for EU-Turkey relations and assess the situation on the ground, including with regard to recent developments in the field of the rule of law, freedom of expression and media, and human rights. The delegation also discussed regional issues and Turkish foreign policy, the situation of Syrian refugees in Turkey and the Kurdish issue. The visit took place in the context of the upcoming AFET annual report on Turkey in the framework of the accession process.
Participants of the delegation:
Mr David McALLISTER (EPP, Germany), Chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee
Mr Sergey LAGODINSKY (Greens, Germany), Co-chair of the EU-Turkey Joint Parliamentary Committee
Mr Michael GAHLER (EPP, Germany)
Ms Željana ZOVKO (EPP, Croatia)
Mr Nikos ANDROULAKIS (S&D, Greece)
Ms Elena YONCHEVA (S&D, Bulgaria)
Mr Ilhan KYUCKYUK (RE, Bulgaria)
Ms Katrin LANGENSIEPEN (Greens, Germany)