Has Turkey’s President Erdoğan gone too far? Following a failed coup in July 2016, the Turkish leader has acted quickly to arrest or dismiss anybody deemed to be a potential threat to his regime. Tens of thousands of people have been detained; media organisations have been shut down, and roughly 120,000 people have been fired from their public sector jobs. President Erdoğan is currently pushing to reform the country’s constitution, consolidating sweeping powers into the office of the president.
It’s not that long ago that Turkey was being held up as an exemplar of secular democracy in the Muslim world. Many pro-democracy revolutionaries during the Arab Spring looked to the Turkish model. So, what went wrong? Why is Turkey following the path of illiberal democracy?
What do our readers think? We had a comment sent in from Siegfried on our ‘Suggest a Debate’ page, wondering whether Erdoğan’s Turkey was still compatible with EU membership, given the recent government crackdown.
Is Erdoğan’s Turkey compatible with EU membership? We asked Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) from all sides of the political spectrum to stake out their positions on this question, and it’s up to YOU to vote for the policies you favour. See what the different MEPs have to say, then vote at the bottom of this debate for the one you most agree with! Take part in the vote below and tell us who you support in the European Parliament!
Not at all. The core values of the European Union are democracy and human rights, freedom of expression, freedom of press, and the rule of law. None of those are respected at the moment in Turkey. The EU should withdraw from all negotiations and halt any payments made related to the candidate status of Turkey. That’s the only way we have to express our concerns in a way the Turkish government understands.
I think that we have to make a distinction between Turkey and Erdoğan. Because Turkey, formally, is a democracy, and there are a lot of democratic Turks who would like membership of the European Union. But it’s very, very difficult to negotiate membership with Erdoğan. Things are going in the wrong direction in Turkey under his leadership… So, I would say that EU membership is not compatible with Erdoğan, but it could be with another leader.
No, the [Turkish] regime is not respecting European democratic principles. But, at the same time, I do not support the freezing of accession talks with [Turkey]. It is vital to distinguish between the current regime and the Turkish people. We need to keep the dialogue open and maintain our criticism until the situation gets better.
Laura Ferrara (EFDD), Member of the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs and Substitute Member of the Committee on Foreign Affairs and Subcommittee on Human Rights:
The situation of fundamental rights in Turkey is actually very controversial, especially after the coup d’état of the last summer. I’m afraid, unfortunately, that this situation is incompatible with EU membership. We hope, however, that Turkey could swiftly restart her path towards a better acknowledgement of the rule of law and fundamental rights.