‘Turkey moves further away from meeting European standards’

Turkey's President Tayyip Erdogan. © Francois Lenoir
Considering Turkey’s crackdown on the Zaman newspaper, it’s a good sign that for the first time EU ministers are making tougher statements, Kati Piri, MEP from the Dutch Labour party, told RT.

READ MORE: EU to go for tougher refugee stance at Turkey summit overshadowed by newspaper crackdown

RT: We've heard a number of EU officials condemning Turkish actions with regards to the seizure of opposition newspaper Zaman. Could the condemnation go further than just words?

Kati Piri: It is very serious what is happening in Turkey. But at least I am happy that for the first time the ministers of the EU are making tougher statements. We saw a couple of months ago a critical report by the European commission being postponed in order not to anger Ankara. We saw that the last time, when two famous journalists from Turkey were imprisoned - the EU was silent as well. And now it is time to break this silence. As far as I am concerned this is the first step. 

RT: Awkward moment that at the same time Europe is trying to do a deal with Turkey to try and keep the migrants away. Couldn’t come at a worse time, could it?

KP: The timing seems to be very strange. One could only perceive it as almost a provocation to the EU. Two days before traveling to Brussels, something like this happens. I think the lesson we must draw is that we cannot have such a one-dimensional dialogue with Turkey only focusing on how many people are arriving on the Greek shores. We must have a broader dialogue definitely also including our fundamental rights.

Lode Vanoost, Former Deputy Speaker of the Belgian Parliament: "The problem here is that there is an enormous amount of hypocrisy towards Turkey. It is a very complex issue. On the one hand, what is happening in Turkey is very deplorable if you see what they have done with the Zaman newspaper lately. Turkey is sliding into another dictatorship. On the other hand, most of the refugees are still residing in Turkey, and Turkey has already paid a big price for that."

RT: The Turkish prime minister stated that he's willing to discuss possible EU membership at today's summit. What impact could the takeover of Zaman have on Turkey's plans?

KP: To be honest, I don’t think anyone - certainly not in Europe, but also not in Turkey - believes that the accession of Turkey is near. What we see in the European parliament is clearly Turkey moving even further away from meeting the European standards we set on how to deal with minority rights, how to respect fundamental rights of people, how to have a rule of law in a country. I am in favor of negotiating with Turkey on migration. I also think we must have a more intensive dialogue on human rights issues. But Turkey is not moving closer to EU membership.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.