EU Parliament: Relationship with Turkey at historic low, funding for Turkey, Belarus, and Azerbaijan halted

BRUSSELS — The European Parliament confirmed in its annual report on Turkey that its relationship with Ankara has reached a historic low point, noting that the repressive model adopted by the government of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has led to the arbitrary restriction of freedom of expression and the press.

In its annual report published last Wednesday on Turkey for the year 2019–2020, the European Parliament sharply criticized Turkey’s continued and growing distance from European values and standards, which has led to relations reaching a historic low that requires a deep reassessment.

In the report, the EU stressed Ankara’s lack of commitment to implementing EU reforms, noting a significant decline in the rule of law and fundamental rights as well as the adoption of a hostile and anti-EU foreign policy. The situation in Turkey continues to deteriorate, reads the report, suggesting that the official suspension of negotiations on the accession process with Turkey should continue.

On the suppression of freedoms in Turkey, the report spoke of a systematic policy of repression developed by Erdogan’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and called on Turkish authorities to release all human rights defenders, journalists, lawyers, and academics imprisoned on dubious or political charges.

According to Greek Reporter news, the European Parliament adopted an amendment put forward by Greek MEP Nikos Androulakis (Progressive Alliance of Socialists & Democrats, S&D) to halt EU funding for Turkey, Belarus, and Azerbaijan.

The amendment stipulates that EU funds will only be available to NGOs who promote human rights, rather than government entities.

In a statement posted to Twitter, Androulakis stated that between 2014 and 2018, Turkey received roughly €3.6 billion. In 2019 and 2020, that sum dropped dramatically to only €160 million. In 2020, Ankara used a portion of the €160 million to purchase upgraded ships for its Coast Guard fleet. Such government purchases are now taken off the table.

“A prerequisite for a country to receive European funding is to respect human rights, the rule of law and international law,” wrote Androulakis. “It is unacceptable for the EU to fund those who violate our principles and values.”