European Socialists and Democrats urge for constructive talks and closer cooperation between the European Union and Turkey in order to fight terrorism effectively and to bring solutions to the humanitarian consequences of the Syrian war, especially in managing the refugee crisis in an effective way and respecting human rights and European democratic values.
S&Ds welcomed the European leaders' decision for the re-launching of the EU-Turkey accession process with the opening of new chapters for negotiation and urged the Turkish authorities to respect the rule of law, democratic values and rights of all Turkish citizens. The Turkish government must definitely fully respect press freedom.
S&D MEP and EP rapporteur on Turkey, Kati Piri, said:
"Reaching this agreement with Turkey is an important step that will make the influx of refugees to Europe manageable. We overlooked for too long the efforts made by the Turkish population in hosting 2, 2 million refugees. In the summit it was recognized that this refugee crisis could only be handled through partnership.
"An essential missing part of the EU-Turkey agreement is that, due to internal divisions among EU countries, no agreement has been reached on the resettlement of refugees. Other options than relying on smugglers will have to be given to people fleeing war. It is important to follow up on this and that we offer to genuinely share Turkey's burden.
"We welcome the reinvigoration of the accession talks. It is a pity that this crisis was needed to convince member states that a more intensive dialogue between the EU and Turkey is very much in the interest of both. We do have, however, serious concerns about some internal developments in Turkey. Therefore, it was uncomfortable to be announcing a new phase in the EU-Turkey partnership during the same week that two top journalists were imprisoned and a famous Kurdish human rights lawyer assassinated.
"In order to make this new momentum last, it must be clear to both sides that the accession process is merit based and at the core are respect for the rule of law and fundamental freedoms."
S&D vice-chair responsible for foreign affairs, Knut Fleckenstein, added:
"More cooperation with Turkey is needed to face the regional challenges and bring peace and stability to the region.
"We support Turkey's European integration and welcome the re-launching of the EU-Turkey negotiation process.
"Turkey needs to strengthen democracy and the rule of law. Freedom of press, respect of journalists in their work and judicial independence are fundamental rights in a pluralist democracy and are a pre-condition for every country that really wants to become part of the European family.
"We call on the Turkish government to re-launch the peace process with the Kurds and to support UN efforts for the reunification of Cyprus."