EU should show more solidarity with Turkey’s democrats and urge Erdogan to stop military offensive in Syria

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Press release

The S&D Group does not expect big breakthroughs at the ongoing EU-Turkey summit in Bulgaria. We regret no conditions were set prior to the meeting, and no mandate was given by member states to EU leaders Donald Tusk and Jean-Claude Juncker. Still, we call the European Union to show more solidarity with Turkey’s democrats and urge President Tayyip Erdogan to stop his military offensive in Syria.
 
Ahead of the summit Kati Piri, S&D spokesperson on Turkey and the European Parliament rapporteur on Turkey said:
 
"I expect the summit to be a disappointing and rather uncomfortable gathering. Despite alarming indications of the direction in which Turkey is heading, the European Union is incapable of formulating a strategy on how to keep Turkey anchored to the EU. This stalemate is not preventing Turkey from further backsliding into authoritarianism, nor does it help in anyway Turkey’s population - of whom millions do not support the current government’s policies. While not being able to make any offer to Erdogan, we expect Tusk and Juncker to clearly speak out in defence of rule of law and fundamental freedoms in Turkey.
 
"The Turkish demands to move forward with the accession process, the modernisation of the customs union and visa free travel are all blocked. If the Turkish government is serious about wanting to improve ties with the EU, it will have to respect its own constitution and make improvements to its human rights record. Until that time, the S&D group expects the European Union to show its solidarity with Turkey’s democrats. More places should be offered for Erasmus students from Turkey, academics who were dismissed should be able to participate in EU research programmes, and more funding be allocated to civil society and media freedom."
 
Knut Fleckenstein, S&D MEP and spokesperson on foreign affairs, added:
 
"In today's summit, the EU leaders must strongly urge the Turkish government to end the military offensive in Syria as soon as possible. The intervention "Olive Branch" has already caused countless deaths and mass displacement. The humanitarian situation is catastrophic. The expansion of the military offensive to the city of Tell Rifaat would be another serious mistake."