Nationalist backbencher Dr Jeffrey Pullicino Orlando has declared that any government position regarding Turkey’s bid to join the European Union should be sanctioned by Parliament, and that a decision on the sensitive issue should by no means be taken unilaterally. Dr Pullicino Orlando is in fact thinking of backing his argument by presenting a Private Member’s Bill on the issue.
Dr Pullicino Orlando is in fact thinking of backing his argument by presenting a Private Member’s Bill on the issue.
Speaking to The Malta Independent on Sunday yesterday, following his Facebook statements that had sparked controversy, Dr Pullicino Orlando elaborated further and said he had already conveyed his position against Turkey’s membership to the highest echelons of the party.
He reiterated his amazement at last Thursday’s news when Foreign Minister Tonio Borg announced Malta’s support for Turkey’s prospective EU membership.
Asked whether his position was related to the fact that Turkey is a Muslim country, the Nationalist backbencher clarified that his arguments are based on what he perceives as huge cultural differences and Turkey’s abysmal human rights record. He also emphasised that racism had nothing to do with his stance.
“Turkey’s record, especially when dealing with women’s rights and the appalling stories regarding the way Turkish security services are treating women is a case in point. While some are saying that EU membership could bring about changes to improve the country’s human rights record, I beg to differ as Turkey, which has been a member of the Council of Europe since 1949, has never kept its word on the issue and has been taking the rest of Europe for a ride all these years,” Dr Pullicino Orlando claimed.
He added that his position was in line with that adopted by European People’s Party (EPP), of which the PN is member.
On his Facebook page, Dr Pullicino Orlando quoted Martin Olof Persson’s thesis commissioned for the Luleå University of Technology in which he states that the EPP considers the best relationship with Turkey is anything short of membership such as an association agreement. He also posted a report published by Deutsche Welle quoting the French President’s declaration that Turkey is not fit for EU membership.
The Nationalist backbencher, who is no stranger to controversy, complained that he had not been given the opportunity to voice his concerns and debate the issue, neither within the party’s structure nor in Parliament. Dr Pullicino Orlando did not go into the merits of whether his position was supported by other PN backbenchers, but claimed that a large portion of the electorate shares his views on the implications of Turkey’s potential accession to the EU, a bid that has been in the offing since 1987.