The European Union needs a new and more honest relationship with Turkey, according to Syed Kamall, a member of the European Parliament and leader of the European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) group.

Addressing the European Parliament on November 22, he said the Turkish governing AK Party still contains many elements that are seeking to marry together Islam, democracy and economic liberalisation, but that President Recep Tayyip Erdogan‘s actions have raised sufficient concerns for most MEPs to unite in saying, “enough is enough”.

Kamall, who is of Turkish/Kurdish descent, called on the EU to focus more on an honest partnership with Turkey, rather than trying to apply pressure to Erdogan under a prospect of membership that is unlikely to be realised.

“Whatever our personal views, the time has come for us all to be honest and open with Turkey,” he said. “A country that has seen remarkable economic growth thanks to increasing economic freedom. Under a governing AK Party that has married together Islam with democracy and economic liberalisation.”

“So instead of business as usual, let us build a new relationship based not on false promises, but on honesty,” added Kamall. “Let us build a new relationship based not necessarily on EU membership but on real cooperation. Let us build a new relationship based not on just fighting today’s fires and problems, but on preparing for the challenges we will all face for decades to come.”