Due to the “deteriorating situation in relation to democracy, rule of law and human rights” in Turkey, the European Parliament has announced that it will cut funds which have been allocated to the country. The EU has announced in a recent statement that it will reduce the funding by €105 million, and suspend a further €70m in 2018 from the €4.45 billion Turkey is entitled to under current framework.
“Concerning Turkey, MEPs made sure to cut pre-accession funds by 105 million euros (with a further €70 million in commitments put in reserve), as they consider the deteriorating situation in relation to democracy, rule of law and human rights worrying,” the European Parliament said in a statement.
The proposed cuts follow the concerns among member states about the recent government arrests in Turkey. MEP Siegfred Muresan said that “For those … that depart from our democratic standards and breach fundamental rights, we have sent a clear message that the money that the EU provides cannot come without strings attached. ” A spokesperson for Turkey’s Justice and Development Party claims that the accusations are unfair and it takes its relations with the EU seriously.
Increasing Tensions between the EU and Turkey
The decision to cut funding is fuelling the ongoing tensions between Turkey and Europe over membership negotiations. According to Kavakci Kan, a member of the Turkish governments EU harmonization committee “The EU, as well as some member states, have not been acting fair in their attitude towards Turkey for a while now. We can see it in decisions taken against Turkey by the EP as well as some national parliaments.”
“This situation bothers us. We do not accept the accusations made by the EU. We have been particularly closely monitoring the investigations and trials that started after the failed coup in order for them to be carried out within the rule of law. Turkey should be congratulated for these efforts”
Earlier in the year, the European Commission announced that the EU should “suspend the accession negotiations with Turkey without delay if the constitutional reform package is implemented unchanged”. Angela Merkel has also called for the EU’s funding to Turkey to be cut following the recent tensions, saying that “Not only are Germans being arrested, but the entire rule of law in Turkey is moving in the wrong direction. We are very worried about this. And I will back a reduction in pre-accession funds”
Turkey’s EU Membership Bid
Turkey’s EU bid has already been put on hold, with Angela Merkel believing that they “should not become a member of the EU”, but could membership be the answer to solving Europe’s concerns? Can Baydarol, deputy chairman of the Ankara-based European Union and Global Research Association said that “Taking these criticisms in the report and the Commission’s recommendation into consideration, the EU leaders might make a concrete decision on Turkey’s EU bid in the coming summits”
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