A visit by leading MEPs Elmar Brok (European People's Party) and Kati Piri (Socialists & Democrats) to Ankara, has been postponed due to what has been described as a "disagreement" with Turkish authorities on the format of the meetings.
The EU-Turkey talks have been mired in increasing animosity ever since the crackdown by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan since the failed military coup in July. The EU had — for more than a year — been brokering a deal under which Brussels agreed to accelerate Turkey's accession into the EU and grant visa-free access to Turkish citizens to the EU Schengen.
Part of the deal was a plan to stem the flow of migrants from Turkey to Europe and relocate "irregular migrants" — those refused asylum — from Greece back to Turkey, in return for US$3.26 billion in aid to assist Turkish refugee camps. Many refugee NGOs — including the UNHCR — refused to cooperate, citing Turkey's poor record on human rights and conditions at its refugee camps.
However, since the failed coup, Turkey has drawn criticism for the crackdown on opposition parties, the media, academics and the police and military. European Parliament President Martin Schulz made contact with Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım to discuss how to re-establish the faltering political dialogue between the EU and the Turkish government.
The visit of EU Affairs Minister Omer Celik to the European Parliament, November 16, was part of the agreement to keep open political dialogue.
Elmar Brok, the Chairman of the European Parliament Committee on Foreign Affairs, and Kati Piri, the EP standing rapporteur for Turkey, were supposed to travel to Ankara with Celik to hold high-level meetings with Turkish authorities and representatives of the opposition and civil society with a view to restore political dialogue.
However, "due to differences on the format of the meetings" — according to Brussels — Schulz, in agreement with Brok and Piri, decided to postpone the visit until Parliament's prerogatives are respected.
"The European Parliament is keen to dialogue frankly, openly and in good faith with Turkish authorities. For dialogue to happen, a precondition is to accept the autonomy and independence of your interlocutor. Mr. Brok and Ms. Piri represent the European Parliament and we cannot allow to have a pick-and-choose approach on who speaks to whom," President Schulz said.
"The objections levied by the EU authorities regard the proportionality of the response of the Turkish government in the wake of the coup. The European Union remains committed to dialogue. Dialogue however requires the two sides to be willing to talk to each other. I continue to hope that the EP will be able to visit Turkey soon," he added.