EU Parliament Set to Urge Suspension of Turkey’s Accession Talks

  • Draft resolution seeks ‘temporary freeze’ of membership bid
  • Non-binding move shows Europe’s anger over Turkish crackdown

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan

Photographer: Murat Kaynak/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

The European Parliament is poised to call for a halt to EU membership talks with Turkey in a non-binding move that will highlight the depth of concerns in Europe over Turkish authorities’ heightened crackdown on political opponents.

In a draft resolution drawn up by all the European Union assembly’s main political groups and due to be put to a vote on Thursday, the 28-nation Parliament urges EU governments “to initiate a temporary freeze of the ongoing accession negotiations with Turkey.” The vote by the full assembly is scheduled to take place at about noon in Strasbourg, France.

European parties ranging from Christian Democrats to ex-communists have demanded the EU show Turkey a red card for arresting around 150 journalists, detaining more than 2,300 judges and prosecutors, and suspending or dismissing almost 130,000 public employees in response to a failed coup in July against President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Criticism boiled over earlier this month when Turkish authorities extended the crackdown with the detention of Kurdish lawmakers.

The draft EU Parliament resolution says Turkish “repressive measures” taken under a state of emergency imposed after the bungled coup attempt violate basic democratic values. On the demand for freezing Turkey’s 11-year-old EU accession negotiations, the text says the assembly “commits to reviewing its position when the disproportionate measures under the state of emergency in Turkey are lifted.”

The suspension call is also directed at the European Commission, the EU’s executive arm, which along with national governments is seeking continued Turkish cooperation in upholding a March agreement to stem the flow of Mideast refugees into Europe. On Tuesday, the commission’s top diplomat, Federica Mogherini, argued against a halt to membership talks.

“The best way to strengthening Turkey’s democracy, the most effective way, is by engaging with Turkey, by keeping channels open,” Mogherini told the EU Parliament. “The accession process has achieved important results in many fields.”

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