MEPs on Wednesday lashed out at Turkish Prime Minister Recep Erdo?an over the violent response to the protests in Istanbul.
The demonstration began as a peaceful sit-in against government plans to build a shopping centre in central Istanbul. But it has now evolved into wide anti-government protest that has polarised the country.
The EU expressed concern about the use of police force after clashes with the protesters left 5,000 injured and 4 dead.
‘Mr Erdogan would have to change, that is the message that has to come from here, yes we want Turkey but this Turkey that is represented today by Mr Erdogan can not have a place in Europe, Mr Erdogan would have to change to change Turkey’, said S&D leader Hannes Swoboda.
‘Excessive use of force by members of the police against peaceful demonstrators must be swiftly and thoroughly investigated and those responsible held accountable’, said EU’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Catherine Ashton.
‘What is happening or what had happened in Turkey is a clear violation of human rights. Turkey is today, I call it Mr Swoboda, the biggest prison for journalists in the world’, said ALDE’s leader Guy Verhofstadt.
Experts have warned that the violent crackdown in Taksim Square threatens Turkey’s bid to join the EU. For some, however, furthering negotiations on Turkey’s EU accession could be the key to deepening democracy and respect for human rights.
MEPs disagreed during a heated debate in Strasbourg.
‘What I am asking you (Mrs Ashton) is to stand up against a deterioration of democracy that is becoming more and more what I call a “democratura”‘, said ALDE’s leader Guy Verhofstadt.
‘This is not the moment to disengage from Turkey but to engage more closely and for Turkey to engage more closely with the EU to’, said EU’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Catherine Ashton.
‘My group is a strong supporter of a European chance for Turkey, but let me be clear, not a Turkey that turns its back to European principles and European values’, said ALDE’s leader Guy Verhofstadt.
EU accession talks with Turkey started in 2005, but progress has been stalled due to concerns about the state of human rights, freedom of expression, and Turkey’s relations with Cyprus.