New EP Turkey rapporteur: New narrative for EU-TR relations needed
“We need to keep the Turkish EU accession process on track“, says the European Parliament‘s new rapporteur for Turkey, Nacho Sánchez Amor, at the end of his first official visit to the country this week. "Turkey is and should remain a candidate country despite the current difficulties in EU-Turkey relations.“
In meetings with government representatives, party leaders, mayors, parliamentarians and civil society representatives in Istanbul, Gaziantep and Ankara, the rapporteur emphasized the importance of close relations both for Turkey and the EU.
"We need to communicate more and better to overcome the current lack of trust between Turkey and the EU. Therefore, political dialogue should be revived at all levels. I am convinced that it is important to broaden our dialogue, for instance by strengthening the cooperation at local level between municipalities, universities, and other actors. We also need to further strengthen contacts at parliamentary level“, says Sánchez Amor.
In order to restore trust, it is important that both sides deliver on their commitments, stresses the rapporteur: "Turkey needs to come back to normality after the exceptional period resulting from the attempted coup of July 2016. I encourage Turkey to work with the EU on reforms to improve the rule of law, including the independence of the judiciary and the situation of fundamental rights, such as the freedom of expression and of the media. On the other hand, the EU needs to maintain a credible accession perspective, based on an objective assessment of the conditions.“
Nacho Sánchez Amor also met with several organisations and EU-funded projects assisting Syrian refugees in Gaziantep. "Turkey has been incredibly generous in hosting 4 million refugees. We owe gratitude to Turkish society, but also continuous support as long as the need is there.“
The new European Parliament Rapporteur on Turkey, Nacho Sanchez Amor, visited Istanbul, Gaziantep and Ankara this week in the context of his upcoming EP report on Turkey. It was his first visit to the country in his new capacity.
Among others, the Rapporteur met with Foreign Minister Çavuşoğlu, Justice Minister Gül, Interior Minister Soylu, Deputy Foreign Minister Kaymakçı, the leaders of the main political parties, the mayors of Istanbul and Gaziantep, Ekrem İmamoğlu and Fatma Şahin, the dismissed mayor of Mardin, Ahmet Türk, as well as with journalists, academics, non-governmental organisations, business and labour representatives. Mr Sanchez Amor also visited the Turkish Grand National Assembly for talks with parliamentary interlocutors and laid a wreath in memory of the victims of the attempted coup of July 2016.
The discussions focused on Turkish EU integration, the state of play of EU-Turkey relations including the prospects for modernising the Customs Union and visa liberalization, latest developments in Turkish internal and external policies, judiciary reform, freedom of speech and media, the situation of prominent detained opposition leaders, notably Selahattin Demirtaş, and civil society figures such as Osman Kavala, the situation of refugees, and the role of municipalities in the EU-Turkey relations.
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