Manfred Weber calls for freeze on Turkish EU accession talks

Written by Martin Banks on 14 March 2017 in News

Parliament’s EPP group leader Manfred Weber has again called for a freeze on talks over Turkish accession to the EU.

EPP Group chair Manfred Weber

Manfred Weber Photo credit: European Parliament audiovisual

His call comes amid a sharp decline in relations between the two sides in recent days, with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan likening the Netherlands to “a banana republic.”

Weber told a news conference in Strasbourg, “Almost on a daily basis we are seeing fresh provocation from Ankara. This has to stop. It is clear the EU is not the stage for domestic Turkish politics to play out on.

“Now we in Europe have been scolded by Turkey but we stand fully and firmly behind the Netherlands and Turkey will not succeed in dividing Europe.”

Speaking on Tuesday, Weber said, “The situation in Turkey gives cause for real concern with the detention of journalists and political opponents. Current accession talks should be frozen until we know in which direction Turkey is headed. We cannot pretend that nothing is happening in Turkey.

“Full accession of Turkey into the EU is not an option so we need to look at a new pattern of partnership.”

He added, “Turkey is heading in the wrong direction.  At the very least we have to put EU Turkey relations on a fresh footing.”

He also welcomed the reappointment last week, despite Polish opposition, of Donald Tusk as EU Council President.

Weber said, “Tusk has done an outstanding job as Council President. The fact that all member states gave him their support, apart from Poland which is doing itself a disservice with this kind of behaviour, is a strong sign that central and eastern Europe is part of the leadership of the EU.”

In addition, Weber said that the EPP had asked for a parliamentary debate on party funding at EU level.

He said the group had also asked the Commission to come forward with a legislative proposal on the issue.

Weber told reporters, “We need greater clarity on funding of party structures. We cannot have the EU continuing to put money into the hands of those who are anti EU. People are allowed to question the EU but we must ask the question as to whether the EU is stupid enough to fund its enemies and fund anti EU activities.

“You can have anti EU parties of course - that is democracy - but do you need to fund them from an EU purse? I say, no money for anti EU parties.

“We currently have political parties which are being funded by the EU who are very hostile to the EU. Extreme right wing events are being organised on the back of EU funding. That goes against the grain. I have a real problem with this.

“These people just want to destroy the EU. We need clear criteria for those who want to do that but are getting money from us. We have to think about this.

“We have seen a lot of misuse of EU money for those who want to destroy us.”

On Brexit and the prospects of a fresh Scottish referendum, the German MEP said, “What is striking is  that Theresa May is not managing to win her own people over because you have a majority in favour of the EU in Scotland and Northern Ireland which is even more critical because of the peace process. This is a very dangerous development. What is needed is something the whole country can support.

“We respect the Brexit result but there is an increasing divide and split in the UK and in British society and that is not good for the UK.

“It is up to the British and Scots to decide on a second referendum in Scotland. But what I would say is that people all over Europe now see how risky it is to put the EU in jeopardy in this way, with Northern Ireland being a case in point.”

About the author

Martin Banks is a senior reporter for the Parliament Magazine

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