European Parliament adopts report advising freeze of accession talks with Turkey

A report proposed by Turkey rapporteur for the European Parliament (EP) Kati Piri and calling for freezing of membership negotiations with the country was adopted with a large majority of votes in the EP on Thursday.

In the report, Piri called on European countries and European Commission to suspend accession negotiations immediately and officially in case a constitutional reform package approved in a public referendum in Turkey on April 16 is implemented unchanged.

The decision was grounded on the incompatibility of the reform package with the principle of separation of powers and the Copenhagen criteria.

A total of 638 out of 751 MEPs attended the vote, with 477 voting in favor of the report, while 64 rejected and 94 abstained.

The EP voted to freeze accession talks in another decision made in November 2016 because of the Turkish government’s “disproportionate” response to a failed coup attempt on July 15,2016.

The report also condemned the failed coup attempt and terrorist attacks in Turkey, stating that the Turkish government has the right and responsibility to prosecute the liable in the frame of law state and just prosecution.

Meanwhile, Turkey’s EU Minister Ömer Çelik has harshly criticized the approval of the resolution in the European Parliament which called for the freezing of accession talks with Turkey, saying that the move is aimed at sabotaging relations between Turkey and the EU.

Çelik, who criticized the decision of the EP to approve the resolution for being political, biased and undemocratic, said it is not binding for Turkey.

The minister also asked the EP to respect the will of the Turkish people who approved of the constitutional reform package in the public referendum on April 16 which introduced an executive presidency in Turkey.

“If they want to cooperate, we are ready to sit and talk. We are open to listening their criticisms but we are not open to discussing anti-democratic issues such as invalidation of the people’s will,” said Çelik.

Çelik also accused the EP of not understanding a failed coup attempt in Turkey last July and criticized it for asking concrete evidence about the Gülen movement’s involvement in the coup attempt.

“We accept the attitude that somehow questions whether FETÖ [a derogatory term used by government circles to refer to the Gülen movement] organized the coup attempt as hostile,” added Çelik.

The military coup attempt on July 15 killed over 240 people. Immediately after the putsch, the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government along with Turkey’s autocratic President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan pinned the blame on the Gülen movement.

Fethullah Gülen, who inspired the movement, strongly denied having any role in the failed coup and called for an international investigation into it, but President Erdoğan — calling the coup attempt “a gift from God” — and the government initiated a widespread purge aimed at cleansing sympathizers of the movement from within state institutions, dehumanizing its popular figures and putting them in custody.

Turkey has suspended or dismissed more than 150,000 judges, teachers, police and civil servants since July 15. At least 161,751 people were detained or investigated and 50,334 people were arrested in Turkey in the framework of the Turkish government’s massive post-coup witch hunt campaign targeting alleged members of the Gülen movement since the controversial coup attempt on July 15, 2016, according to statistics reported by state-run Anadolu news agency by basing on information taken from the officials from Turkey’s Justice Ministry on June 13.

Turkey’s EU accession talks began in 2005, but only one of the 35 policy areas — called “chapters” — has been closed. A country is ready to join the EU only when it has met the criteria in all 35 chapters. President Erdoğan has been accusing the EU of siding with “terrorism” rather than supporting Turkey since the coup attempt.  (SCF with July 6, 2017

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