The S&D welcomed today's decision by the Council to open a new chapter – on regional development – in negotiations with Turkey on joining the EU. The Council also postponed the official launch of the talks till the autumn in light of the police crackdown on protesters in Istanbul and other cities.
S&D vice-president Libor Rou?ek said:
"The main outcome is that Turkey's accession process is moving forward. This is positive. After nearly three years of impasse, a new chapter will finally be opened.
"The S&D Group's position is clear and consistent: we have condemned the excessive use of force by the Turkish police faced with peaceful and legitimate protests, and the inflammatory rhetoric of AKP leaders (the ruling right-wing party), but we insist that EU's response should be more engagement with Turkey – not less. After all, the people of Turkey have risen in defence of European values: a more accountable and democratic government, respect for the rule of law and human rights.
"The accession process offers the best tool for Turkey's democratic consolidation and for addressing deficiencies in fundamental rights and the rule of law. Therefore, instead of slowing down the accession process, the EU should accelerate it and open chapters 23 and 24 – on justice, fundamental rights and freedoms – as soon as possible. EU policy must be anchored in a long-term strategy and credible commitment to Turkish citizens, and not fall victim to short-term tactics."