Mr President, today we call for a renewed boost in EU-Turkish relations and to open the negotiation chapters on the most essential issues now: the chapters on fundamental freedoms, justice and the rule of law.
Our emphasis on these key issues prompts the Turkish authorities, the government first and foremost, to ensure the rule of law is upheld. While we are open to cooperation in relation to the Middle East and on mutual security challenges, we strongly condemn the abuse of anti-terrorism laws. It is, after all, NATO’s second largest army, but a significant portion of this army’s leadership now faces the most serious charges of committing terrorist activities or of plotting a coup. It is essential for Turkey, its role in NATO and its relations with the EU that both process and outcomes of these trials are fairly conducted and that suspects get a due process.
The same goes for the high number of journalists imprisoned, as many colleagues have mentioned. The climate of fear and mistrust in institutions in Turkey is undermining its potential to be a leader in a changing world and we urge the Turkish Government to take its responsibilities.