Question No. 255
Parliamentary Question - Oireachtas
To ask the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if he will report on the status of Turkey's accession talks to the EU; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
- Darragh O'Brien.
* For WRITTEN answer on Tuesday, 11th July, 2017.
Ref No: 32296/17
Turkey has been a candidate country since 1999. Accession negotiations began in 2005 and, to date, 15 chapters have been opened and one has been provisionally closed.
Although EU-Turkey relations are under considerable strain at present, Turkey retains its status as a candidate country.
The situation in Turkey, including the future of the EU-Turkey relationship, has been discussed extensively by the EU, in particular at the informal meeting of Foreign Ministers on 28 April following the constitutional referendum on 16 April. While respecting the right of Turkey to decide on its system of governance, Ministers, including my predecessor Charlie Flanagan TD, reiterated their deep concerns about democracy, human rights, the rule of law and freedom of expression, including media expression, and their concern at the conduct and implications of the referendum.
On 6 July, on learning of the arrest of the Executive Director of Amnesty International and nine others, I made a statement urging the Turkish authorities to respect the role played by NGOs in a functioning democracy, and I will continue to make clear our serious concerns about democracy, rule of law and freedom of expression, including media expression, and human rights, including the rights of minorities in Turkey.
There has also been deplorably intemperate criticism by Turkish leaders of some partner member States.
However, the EU wants to see a stable, secure, economically successful and democratic Turkey. The Council and Commission continue to believe that a policy of critical engagement is in the interests of the long term future of all the citizens of Turkey, and, with that in mind, that accession negotiations should not be suspended.
Ireland fully agrees with this approach. We believe that the lines of communication must be kept open and this includes through the accession process, which gives us at least some leverage with which to encourage Turkey to return to European values.
On the other hand, I acknowledge that on 24 November 2016 the European Parliament passed a resolution calling for a temporary freeze of negotiations. A further resolution reiterating this position was passed on 6 July. It calls for the formal suspension of accession negotiations without delay. Neither resolution is binding as decisions in relation to accession are a matter for the Council, but both reflect the serious concerns in relation to ongoing developments in Turkey.