There are prejudices in the form of anti-Turkey and anti-Islam political circles in the European Parliament (EP), the institution's Turkey rapporteur Nacho Sanchez Amor said Tuesday.
"However, these do not form the majority within the EP. We are open to appreciate and investigate Turkey’s steps toward the EU," Amor told Deutsche Welle (DW), indicating that Turkey did not make enough progress regarding the fulfillment of accession criteria, human rights and the rule of law in the country.
The year 2021 was better in terms of Turkey-European Union relations than the previous year, he added. "2020 was a year in which tensions in Turkey-EU ties reached a peak," he said. Amor said that he welcomed President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s statements regarding Turkey’s determination to be part of the EU but said that the bloc expects concrete action.
Turkey-EU relations are marked by disputes on several issues, including tensions in the Eastern Mediterranean, Turkey's role in Syria, the migrant crisis and the stalemate in Turkey's accession process to join the bloc.
Turkey recently reiterated that it is part of Europe and sees its future in the EU, adding that it will continue to work toward full membership.
Turkey has the longest history with the union and the longest negotiation process. The country signed an association agreement with the EU's predecessor in 1964, the European Economic Community (EEC), which is usually regarded as a first step to eventually becoming a candidate. Applying for official candidacy in 1987, Turkey had to wait until 1999 to be granted the status of a candidate country. For the start of the negotiations, however, Turkey had to wait for another six years, until 2005 – a uniquely long process compared with other candidates.
When asked about how the EU views recent steps taken by Turkey and Armenia toward normalization, Amor said: "This is perfect and good news. This is the atmosphere that we want to see in Turkey. Turkey is a strong regional actor."
"It is a positive approach for Turkey to be a regional actor at European standards and to act side by side outside our region," he expressed.