Transcript of an interview of AKEL MEP Giorgos Georgiou on “Astra” radio station
Thursday 14 September 2023
ASTRA – Yesterday we had the approval of the Progress Report on Turkey by the European Parliament, which in the vote you had abstained.
GEORGOS GEORGIOU – All six Cypriot MEP’s abstained on the Report and all for different reasons of course. We as AKEL abstained, as did the overwhelming majority of the Left Group in the European Parliament which of course is always standing on our side and listens to what AKEL proposes. The Report in question was adopted yesterday with 434 votes in favour, 18 against and 152 abstentions.
We as AKEL abstained. Although I was the Shadow Rapporteur on Turkey’s Progress Report on behalf of the Left Group, we were instrumental in ensuring that there were positive references on specific things. Firstly, with regard to the authoritarianism of the Turkish regime. It is well known that the rule of law and human rights are being violated and that the prisons are full of political prisoners, while the Kurds are being subjected to enormous pressure and suffering from persecution.
As far as the Cyprus problem is concerned, there were very good references to the efforts to solve the Cyprus problem, and also with regard to the basis for a solution to the Cyprus problem, namely to the solution of Bi-zonal, Bicommunal Federation, not to a two states solution, denouncing what is happening in Varosha, the reference to the need to permit our Turkish Cypriot compatriots to exist without these suffocating pressures that are being exerted from Turkey, as well as a reference to the persecution of Turkish Cypriot journalists and others who are banned from entering Turkey. The Resolution speaks of the need for the resumption of the talks to move the Cyprus problem towards a solution.
The issues that emerged in the Report begin with the references to Turkey’s foreign policy where Turkey is viewed as an important strategic partner where, in order to serve specific geostrategic expediencies of the European Union and NATO, Turkey is called upon not to create any issues for the cohesion of NATO, basically calling for Turkey to abandon Putin’s embrace and align himself with the common defence and security policy of the EU.
However, the crucial thing that led us as AKEL to abstain, apart from what I mentioned previously, is what is being offered to Turkey as a special alternative relationship, namely the cessation of any attempt to integrate Turkey as a full EU member.
To be honest, neither Turkey wants this, nor does it feel that it can achieve it, because there are huge issues concerning the preconditions Turkey must comply with for it to actually join the EU. But neither do the Europeans believe that Turkey can join – they are simply now starting to say this more loudly.
ASTRA – It is the reference in the Report to the need to find a parallel and realistic framework for Turkey’s relations with the EU isn’t it?
GG – Precisely, the previous European Council instructed the High Representative for the Union’s Foreign Policy Josep Borrell to prepare by October this framework that you have just referred to. In other words, regarding what the EU’s relationship with Turkey will be.
Various things are starting to come into play here. Namely, that Turkey should get an upgraded customs union without respecting the existing one. So I pose the question. Should someone, for example, secure visa liberalisation, very profitable commercial and business transactions? Because if Turkey gets all of these, disregards its obligations with regards the Cyprus problem, the rule of law, with its pirate behaviour in the Eastern Mediterranean, Aegean and elsewhere, who will put pressure on it since the leverage that the EU would have if an accession process was launched would be dramatically reduced?
This is of strategic value and importance. Let’s say this quite clearly. The fact that they are giving Turkey another alternative special relationship from which no obligations will arise, receiving ‘gifts’, as we have characterised it in our intervention it will pay something in return for this, even though the Report has very good elements, it also contains negative elements as well.
We tabled amendments as the Left Group to delete these references to NATO, for a ban to be imposed with regards the sale of arms to Turkey, where the Germans, the French, the Italians, the Spaniards are channeling all these weapons.
We have asked for that specific reference to be withdrawn which says – and note what it does say – that Turkey plays an important geo-strategic role in regional and European security! If that’s at all possible! These things, of course, were not approved because they were voted for only by the left and some others.
However, I repeat in conclusion with regard to Turkey’s Progress Report. There were indeed some very good positive elements.
But we have focused on this.
That is that the Europeans are closing their eyes to serve geopolitical and strategic expediencies and for deepening/enlarging NATO They seek to ensure that Erdogan remains in the arms of the West, and they are promising gifts to Turkey which they will announce in October so that it too will give its consent through the Turkish Grand National Assembly which will instruct them to vote for Sweden to join NATO.
That’s the essence.
ASTRA – A comment on the speech of European Commission President von der Leyen in the European Parliament…
GG – Her comments were unacceptable. When we have reached the point where the leader of the European Right, Mr. Weber, criticizes her for not talking about expensiveness and inflation, I think we can say the following. Mrs. von der Leyen, in the midst of the campaign for the 2024 elections, who very much wants to be reappointed, did indeed put forward some things.
She talked to us positively about the Recovery Fund, that it has a positive content. But she didn’t tell us that a lot of that money is the form of loans and operates as a Memorandum.
She told us about the joint response to the pandemic, but she did not tell us that solidarity was not shown by all countries and that there are also questions raised of a scandal about vaccines that involve her.
She didn’t tell us that there was a provision for the allocation of 9.4 billion euros for health, but eventually just 5 billion was approved.
She talked to us about the “Green Deal” – but she did not tell us that it is being undermined by her own Political Group and what the EU is going do about the climate crisis.
She told us about the war in Ukraine, but she didn’t tell us about the ineffective sanctions and about the NATOisation of the EU either.
She didn’t tell us about the issue of immigration and what is going to be done about it.
She didn’t tell us about high inflation and expensiveness/high cost of living.
Nor did she tell us that one in three EU citizens do not have enough to eat, nor can they afford to go to the doctors.
She did not tell us about the far-right that is on the march.
She didn’t tell us about the wire-tapping surveillance scandal.
She didn’t tell us anything about the scandals involving not only Eva Kaili, but also high-ranking officials of either the European Council or the European Commission.
This is not what Mrs. von der Leyen told us.