The EU has made some serious mistakes in its policy on Turkey, EU-Turkey rapporteur Kati Piri told daily Hürriyet on Jan. 24.
“The EU has made some serious mistakes in this process. Unfortunately, we cannot change the past,” Piri said.
“I hope there is a chance for Ankara to rejoin the [EU] process, given that unless there is a change in the current circumstances, the process will come to an end,” the rapporteur said.
Piri underlined the importance of regaining trust for both sides and called on the parties to take one another’s concerns into consideration.
While highlighting the current damaged state of trust between Turkey and the EU as an obstacle, Piri seemed somewhat optimistic for the coming year.
“The year 2017 was dominated with skepticism, which really hurt ties. This year, upon its willing, the Turkish administration can show it is still tied to EU-Turkey relations,” Piri said.
“Both sides need to establish good relations,” she added.
However, Piri said that looking at developments in Turkey, she did not see positive signals in this regard.
“If we do not see an improvement [in Turkey] by 2019, we will officially request for the negotiations to be suspended,” she said.
Discussing Turkish officials’ request for the country’s full EU membership, Piri said Turkey does not yet have the political appeal for that to happen.
“There are legitimate concerns,” she said.
“Turkey is a candidate country and it is risking [its candidacy],” Piri said, calling on the Turkish government to show its willingness for full membership status to the Western union.
“You can’t just say ‘We care about the EU [membership]’ and not do anything about it,” the rapporteur added.
Yet, Piri also mentioned the EU “should never fully close its doors on Turkey,” as shutting down negotiations would mean the EU “does not care about human rights and the rule of law in Turkey.”
Looking forward, Piri said the upcoming summit is appropriate and that it should be goal-oriented, instead of acting as a “photo op.”
Although the EU has been critical of Turkey’s policies for the past year and a half, the EU is also at risk of losing the Turkish public and the perception in Turkey that the union has failed them should change, Piri said, regarding the Turkish public’s declining appetite for EU membership.
“We are running late to comprehend certain things. We did not realize the refugee crisis until it hit Europe and we did not offer our help,” Piri said.
“A day after the [July 15, 2016] coup attempt, Europe had moved on without fully comprehending what the incident meant for the Turkish public. Sympathizing a bit more with issues that are important for the Turkish public could help mend ties,” she added.
“What the Turkish side needs to do [to mend the ties] is clear as day,” said Piri.