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News 24 Nov 16

Turkey Dismisses EU Vote to Freeze Accession Talks

After European Parliamentarians called for freeze to EU membership talks with Turkey, a Turkish minister called the decision ‘not serious’.

Omer Celik, Turkey’s Minister for EU Affairs. Photo: Anadolu

Omer Celik, Turkey’s Minister for EU Affairs said after the European Parliament vote on Thursday that Ankara would take no notice of the MEPs’ decision.

 “This decision is not serious for us since there is a significant lack of vision,” Celik concluded.

European Parliament members on November 24 called for a temporary halt to EU membership talks citing Ankara's “disproportionate” reaction to the July 15 failed coup.

The vote is not binding but is an advisory decision for the European Council where EU foreign ministers are in charge.

It followed a sharp rise in tension between the EU and Turkey over the government’s massive crackdown against alleged coup plotters and the opposition.

After the failed coup in July, the Turkish government declared a state of emergency.

It has since arrested more than 40,000 people who work in different sectors from the army to the media. It has fired more than 100,000 people from work in public enterprises.

Kati Piri, rapporteur of the European Parliament on Turkey and architect of the vote, said the vote was passed by a huge majority of MEPs.

In total, 479 votes were in favour of the motion while 37 were against with 107 abstentions.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the vote was of “no value”.

EU leaders are keen to continue working relations with Turkey but have warned that the government must abandon its repressive policies.

The EU High Representative, Federica Mogherini, on Tuesday said that if EU membership talks with Turkey fold, both sides will lose out.

“Our relations with Turkey have reached a crucial point,” she said.

Two days before the EU vote on Tuesday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel told the German Bundestag that she opposed halting membership talks with Turkey but was in favour of talking about unfavourable developments in the country.

Some policy makers and analysts criticized the European Parliament’s move, saying it risked pushing Turkey to harden its position on human rights and on reintroducing the death penalty.

They also fear it will endanger cooperation on limiting refugee flows to Europe, a subject of vital interest to many European governments.

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