ATHENS – Greece’s major opposition New Democracy said it voted against a European Parliament resolution to freeze Turkey’s European Union accession hopes because it would take take away leverage needed to make President Recep Tayyip Erdogan make reforms.
With tension between the countries high over frequent violations of Greek airspace and waters by Turkish fighter jets and warships, a New Democracy statement said while it agreed with criticisms of Turkey that taking away EU entry hopes would give Erdogan a free hand to be even more severe after he gained near-dictatorial powers in a referendum.
Since a failed coup against him in July, 2016, Erdogan has purged civil society and the military, jailed hundreds of journalists and dissidents and he has said he’d like the return of the death penalty.
“An a la carte relationship between the EU and Turkey may be beneficial to European countries that have mainly economic interests in Turkey, and may even benefit Turkey because the flow of money from the EU continues, but it takes away from Greece a powerful weapon: the control of the accession process,” New Democracy MEP Maria Spyraki said.
“If eventually it is decided that we have to move to another kind of EU-Turkey relationship, this should be governed by terms and conditions equivalent to those of the accession negotiations,” she added, said Kathimerini.
EU lawmakers voted 370-109, with 143 abstentions, for a freeze of the membership process, citing the collapse of the rule of law, a turn toward authoritarianism and the crackdown on dissidents.