The President of the European Parliament has warned that Turkey is “on the way” to becoming a “one-man state” under the leadership of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan (pictured).
European Parliament President, Martin Schulz, made the comment in a sharply-worded interview with the German daily newspaper Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger (KStA). During the course of the discussion he referred to recent developments in Turkey as a “stunning rejection of European values.”
Referring to negotiations over Turkey’s status in relation to the European Union (EU), Mr. Schulz added:
“[Chancellor Merkel] and EU leaders have said very clearly to the Turkish president that his policy is inconsistent with fundamental European values, and therefore meaningful negotiations on EU membership for Turkey are not only called into question, but rendered virtually impossible.”
In the more immediate future, Mr. Schulz said President Erdoğan’s recent actions jeopardise the prospect of visa liberalisation for Turkish citizens traveling into the EU’s Schengen zone.
He was not merely referring to the appointment by President Erdoğan of his longstanding and faithful ally Binali Yildirim as Prime Minister of Turkey yesterday, but also his intransigence over reforms demanded by Europe as the quid pro quo for visa free travel.
Not only has President Erdoğan refused to make changes to Turkish terrorism laws as required by the migrant deal, but he oversaw the introduction of a controversial bill adopted by parliament last week which lifted immunity for dozens of pro-Kurdish and other Members of Parliament. That move has been seen as means of silencing opposition in parliament in a country which has already seen the persecution of critical media outlets.
Although Mr. Schulz says it must be made clear the EU does not “idly accept the monopolisation of power in one man’s hands,” other comments in the interview hint at the barrel over which President Erdoğan has got European leaders faced with an ongoing migrant crisis in their own countries.
Having said the EU would not deal with Turkey unless something changes, Mr. Schulz later backtracked from actually scrapping the EU-Turkey migrant deal, claiming:
“The refugees would have to pay the price in the end. We need a good agreement. We will therefore continue to cooperate with Turkey, but we must not remain silent.”