Turkey has reacted angrily after the European Parliament in Strasbourg voted yesterday (24 November) – in a symbolic, yet powerful move – by 471 to 37 to halt Turkey’s EU accession talks, passing a resolution that condemned the Turkish government’s “disproportionate repressive measures” after a failed military coup in July. The resolution also called for a “temporary freeze“ of the ongoing negotiations with Turkey in the light of political unrests in the country. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that his country stayed true to “European values“ but has seen little “concrete support from Western friends“. Mr Erdogan further rebuffed the upcoming vote in the European Parliament on the freeze of accession talks on Turkish membership in the European Union and lashed out at what he called Europe’s double standards.
“The EU needs to send a clear message to Turkey. For the European People’s Party (EPP), accession negotiations should be frozen as they cannot continue under the current circumstances,“ Manfred Weber, leaders of the EPP, commented. He added that if Turkey reintroduces the death penalty, “we need to make very clear as well that such a country cannot become a member of the European Union.“ Gianni Pitella of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats added that “Turkey under Mr Erdogan is more and more drifting towards an authoritarian regime“.
However, Federica Mogherini, the head of European diplomacy, said that a freeze on the accession talks would be a lost opportunity. “I believe the best way to strengthen Turkey’s democracy – the most effective way – is by engaging Turkey and by keeping channels open,“ she said. Also Syed Kamall, leader of the European Conservatives and Reformists group criticized the EU’s approach to Turkish membership, saying that for too long Brussels has “dishonestly dangled“ the prospect of Turkey joining the EU in front of the nation and now time is high for a more honest relationship. Mr Kamall said that the EU must come to terms with “the prejudice against a predominantly non-Christian nation, whose land mass is mostly in Asia.“ Other frequently cited reasons against Turkey joining the bloc are its voting weight in the EU Parliament as well as direct borders with countries such as Iran, Iraq and Syria.