EP rapporteur Piri calls for suspension of talks, citing constitutional changes

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EP rapporteur Piri calls for suspension of talks, citing constitutional changes

European Parliament’s (EP) Turkey rapporteur Kati Piri called on the European Union (EU) to immediately suspend Turkey’s accession negotiations if Ankara does not pledge to refrain from applying the changes stated in the constitutional package approved by the public in the April 16 referendum.

Speaking to reporters ahead of a debate of the Committee on Foreign Affairs on relations with Turkey, Piri shared the draft report that will be finalized through debates and get released on May 2. The draft report was released a day after President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan stated that Turkey will not wait at Europe’s door forever and is ready to walk away from EU accession talks if the rising Islamophobia and hostility displayed by certain member states persist.

“The EU is closing its doors on Turkey, but Turkey isn’t closing its doors on anybody. If they are not sincere in their actions we have to find a way out. Why should we wait any longer? We’re talking about 54 years,” he said, referring to the 1963 Ankara Agreement that acknowledged the long-term goal of Turkish membership of a united Europe.

Dutch lawmaker Piri says, “Turkey cannot join the EU with this Constitution,” stating that it is not in accord with the Copenhagen criteria. She added that 600 million euros of pre-accession funds – “which is the money of European tax payers” – will also be cut once the accession talks end.

Earlier in the week, European Commissioner for European Neighborhood Policy Enlargement Negotiations Johannes Hahn called on EU foreign ministers to consider ending Turkey’s accession process when they meet in Malta on Friday. Like Hahn, Piri suggested that Brussels could step up talks on enhancing the customs union which Turkey already has with the EU over the next two-to-three years. She said the process could also give Europeans leverage to persuade Turkey to reverse policies which EU leaders say are undermining Turkish democracy.

During their meeting in Malta, the bloc’s foreign ministers will discuss the points mentioned in the draft EP report and the Council of Europe’s Parliamentary Assembly (PACE) voting that put Turkey on a monitoring watch list. Sources told Daily Sabah that ministers will push their leaders to extend their support to the suspension of Turkey’s accession negotiations at the June summit in Brussels.

President Erdoğan specifically mentioned the foreign ministers meeting on Tuesday and said “I’m very curious as to how the EU is going to act.” Turkey, he said, was still committed to negotiations. “There is not a single thing that we are not ready to do, the minute they ask for it. Whatever they wish, we do. But still they are keeping us at the door,” he said. Erdoğan pointed to the French presidential election, in which far-right leader Marine Le Pen has threatened to take France out of the European Union, and said the bloc was “on the verge of dissolution, of breaking up.” “One or two countries cannot keep the EU alive. You need a country like Turkey, a different country symbolizing a different faith … But EU member states don’t seem to realize this fact. They are finding it very difficult to absorb a Muslim country like Turkey,” he said.

In her report, Piri criticizes the ongoing partial curfews in certain southeastern regions affected by PKK terrorism, the state of emergency and juristic measures applied to members of the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ) and PKK affiliates. On the other hand, she “welcomes the deepening of EU-Turkey relations in key areas of joint interest, such as counterterrorism, migration, energy, economy and trade.” The draft report highlights that the EP supports the commission’s proposal to start negotiations on the upgrade of the Customs Union.