EU nations try to halt talks on Turkey bid for entry
THE European Union has demanded that the bloc freeze membership negotiations with Turkey over the government's heavy-handed crackdown following a failed coup in July.
The EU Parliament approved a non-binding resolution yesterday by a 479-37 margin with 107 abstentions and said the freeze should last until Ankara's "disproportionate measures" under the state of emergency are lifted.
Despite the parliamentary vote, EU officials have said that long-standing but unsuccessful talks should not immediately be halted.
Some EU nations have called for the suspension of the talks.
"By continuing the illusion of accession talks with an increasingly authoritarian regime, the EU is losing credibility, is fooling our citizens, and also betraying those Turkish citizens who look to Europe as their future," said Guy Verhofstadt, leader of the liberal ALDE group.
Anticipating the vote, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had already said his country's "struggle for its stability and future won't be interrupted by (European legislators) raising and lowering their hands."
Although the vote carries no immediate consequences, it underscores the increasing unease in Europe over Mr Erdogan's tightening grip on power.
Tens of thousands of people, including teachers, journalists and opposition lawmakers, have been arrested or fired.
"We can no longer remain silent in the face of Erdogan's outrage and the evident breaches of the rule of law and human rights," S&D socialist leader Gianni Pittella said.
In Ankara yesterday, the minister in charge of negotiations with the EU criticised EU nations for not standing in solidarity at a time when it is dealing with a spate of violent attacks.
"Europe is engaged in short-sighted and visionless discussions," Omer Celik said in the city of Adana, where hours earlier a car bomb killed two people.