EU MPs back freeze on Turkey ne­go­ti­a­tions

The Myanmar Times - - World -

THE Euro­pean Par­lia­ment’s main groups will vote to freeze mem­ber­ship talks with Turkey over its crack­down af­ter a coup at­tempt against Pres­i­dent Re­cep Tayyip Er­do­gan.

The vote threat­ens to deepen the rift be­tween Ankara and the Euro­pean Union, al­though it will not be bind­ing and Euro­pean Union states are for the most part against halt­ing the drawn-out ac­ces­sion process.

“No busi­ness as usual with Turkey, we sup­port a freeze of EU ac­ces­sion ne­go­ti­a­tions,” said Man­fred We­ber, head of the cen­tre-right Euro­pean Peo­ple’s Party, the largest group in the par­lia­ment.

Gianni Pit­tella, leader of the So­cial­ist group, the sec­ond big­gest in the as­sem­bly, added, “Turkey’s EU ac­ces­sion talks must be tem­po­rar­ily frozen. There are not the con­di­tions to pro­ceed now.”

Speak­ing at the Euro­pean Par­lia­ment in Stras­bourg, France, Mr Pit­tella said it would send a “po­lit­i­cal mes­sage to Er­do­gan” to stop the “mass de­ten­tion, ac­cu­sa­tion of po­lit­i­cal lead­ers and MPs, re­pres­sion of judges & jour­nal­ists.”

Lib­eral leader Guy Ver­hof­s­tadt, the for­mer prime min­is­ter of Bel­gium, said that his group too was “ask­ing to su­pend the ne­go­ti­a­tions with Turkey”.

Mr Ver­hof­s­tadt had ear­lier ac­cused Mr Er­do­gan of be­ing part of a “ring of au­to­crats” along with Rus­sian Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin and, po­ten­tially, US Pres­i­dent-elect Don­ald Trump who were try­ing to un­der­mine the EU.

But EU for­eign pol­icy chief Fed­er­ica Mogherini warned that halt­ing the process would be a “lose-lose” move.

Turkey for­mally ap­plied to be­come an EU mem­ber in 1987 and ac­ces­sion talks only be­gan in 2005, even though Ankara’s as­pi­ra­tions to be­come part of the bloc dates back to the 1960s.

Turkey and the EU agreed to speed up mem­ber­ship talks in March as part of an ac­cord on curb­ing mi­grant flows into Greece in ex­change for Turkey get­ting cash and visa-free ac­cess for its citziens.

But the process has neared col­lapse as Brus­sels has harshly crit­i­cised the Turk­ish govern­ment’s crack­down on al­leged coup plot­ters, urg­ing Ankara to com­ply with rights and free­doms cri­te­ria. –

Photo: EPA

Gianni Pit­tella wants to send a po­lit­i­cal mes­sage to Edo­gan.

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