EU official calls on Turkey to say if it's serious about EU ambitions

EU Neighbourhood Policy Commissioner Johannes Hahn called Wednesday on Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to say if Ankara is serious about wanting closer ties to the European Union, warning that if so, it has to play by the bloc's rules.

Turkey, an EU membership candidate, has stepped up cooperation with the European Union to clamp down on migration flows towards the bloc, with Brussels offering aid and benefits - such as the prospect of visa-free EU access for Turkish citizens - in return.

At the same time, Erdogan has been accused of a clampdown on media and the opposition. Hahn's made his comments to EU lawmakers debating a Turkish parliamentary decision last month to lift the immunity of 138 legislators, including nearly all pro-Kurdish lawmakers.

Hahn spoke of the "unacceptability" of the move, which "contradicts all democratic and rule-of-law conventions."

"Turkey, although there are always these statements about becoming a member of the EU, is moving in a completely different direction," he said. "I wish that, starting with president Erdogan, ... there was once a clear statement on whether they are serious about us or not."

"There is no Turkish variety of democracy," Hahn added.

However, he said the EU could not ignore Turkey, one of the most populated countries in the bloc's neighbourhood.

EU lawmakers slammed the Turkish immunity decision.

"We are stunned that, in the 21st century, it is possible to create a climate of fear and intimidation in such a way," said far-left EU lawmaker Gabi Zimmer.

"It is against all democratic principles to silence opponents simply for their political views," added Socialist lawmaker Kati Piri.

Last update: Fri, 24/06/2016 - 08:49

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