The European Parliament’s 2021 Turkey Report
The European Parliament reiterates its concern about the persistent distance between Turkey and EU values and standards. Parliament is also concerned about the continuing lack of political will to carry out the necessary reforms to address, in particular, the serious concerns about the rule of law and fundamental rights that continue to negatively affect the accession process.
Over the past two years, we have witnessed a constant backsliding in regard to Turkey’s commitments in relation to the accession process. The report considers that without clear and significant progress in this field, it cannot envisage any resumption of accession negotiations with Turkey, which have effectively been at a standstill since 2018. Parliament notes that despite a slight improvement over the past year in overall EU-Turkey relations, and in particular in recent months – when the government of Turkey adopted a more cooperative attitude – enhanced cooperation and dialogue on a number of issues have coexisted with regular conflicts. Relations remained challenging with neighbouring EU Member States, in particular Greece and Cyprus.
The report reiterates its firm conviction that Turkey is a country of strategic relevance in political, economic and foreign policy terms. It deplores the continued deterioration of the human rights situation in Turkey, including backsliding on fundamental freedoms, democracy and the rule of law.
Parliament calls on the Turkish authorities to promote positive and effective reforms in the area of freedom of thought, conscience and religion, by enabling religious communities to obtain legal personality and education rights and by applying Venice Commission recommendations on the status of religious communities, all relevant ECtHR rulings and the Council of Europe resolutions. The report encourages once again Turkey to recognise the Armenian Genocide. It condemns in the strongest terms possible the recent ruling by the Istanbul 13th Heavy Penal Court imposing an aggravated life sentence on Osman Kavala after more than four and a half years of unjust, unlawful and illegitimate detention. Parliament reiterates its call on the Turkish authorities to act in conformity with their international and domestic obligations and to abide by the final judgment of the European Court of Human Rights in this case and immediate release Osman Kavala. The report notes that with the decision to openly defy the binding rulings of the ECtHR in relation to the case of Osman Kavala and others, the current Turkish Government has deliberately demolished any aspirations of reopening the EU accession process at the present situation. Both sides are encouraged to review the current state of their relationship through a comprehensive high-level dialogue and to explore complementary ways in parallel to the accession process, such as by a modernised Association Agreement, to reengage in a revamped, balanced and reciprocal partnership firmly conditioned on democracy, rule of law, fundamental rights and freedoms.