Gianni Pittella: Yes to a deal with Turkey but one based on respect for human rights
Speaking at the S&D press conference in Strasbourg today and following the EU Summit on Turkey yesterday, S&D Group president Gianni Pittella, said:
"We cannot consider the lack of an agreement among Heads of State and Government yesterday as a positive outcome.
"For our Group an agreement with Turkey is necessary to stabilise refugee flows. However, any such agreement must be based on sincere cooperation and not merely bartering one goody for another.
"We are talking about human beings and our action must be based on solidarity with people and between countries. We say no to a deal at all costs if human rights are not respected.
"The agreement must be based on three clear objectives: We have to help Greece to stem the migration flow, which it cannot do on its own. If there is an agreement on exchange of refugees with Turkey, it must be clear that this is in line with international human rights obligations. Finally, we have to create legal means of migration into Europe. We have to fight smugglers and must ensure that all illegal routes into Europe are closed.
"Regarding the future of Turkey in Europe, it must be clear that the EU accession process - in which we believe - and the management of the refugee crisis are two separate points. Accession cannot be based on a trade-off deal. The recent developments on media freedom in Turkey are worrying and must be criticised openly. Turkey, in order to facilitate its accession negotiation process, should fully apply the Ankara Protocol and recognise the Republic of Cyprus.
"Finally, to stress that if we want to solve the refugee crisis in the long-term, we must address its root causes and finally end the war in Syria. The ceasefire is a promising first step and must hold".