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European Parliament votes to suspend Turkey membership talks

AFP file photo | Thursday's vote by EU lawmakers to freeze Turkey's citizenship bid is non-binding

The European Parliament on Thursday voted in favour of halting membership talks with Turkey over its post-coup crackdown, in a vote that President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had already branded worthless.

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The non-binding motion approved by MEPs said parliament "calls ... on the Commission and on the Member States to initiate a temporary freeze of the ongoing accession negotiations with Turkey".

"Turkey is an important partner of the EU," the resolution stated. "But in partnerships, the will to cooperate has to be two-sided... Turkey is not showing this political will as the government's actions are further diverting Turkey from its European path."

Anticipating the vote, Erdogan said Wednesday that 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 Erdogan's tightening grip on power in the wake of the coup attempt.

Tens of thousands of people, including teachers, journalists and opposition lawmakers, have been arrested or fired since the failed July 15 coup.

Turkey dismisses vote

Reacting to the vote later Thursday, Omer Celik, Turkey’s EU affairs minister, said the Turkish administration did not take the vote seriously.

"We consider that decision null and void. It is not a decision that can be taken seriously because of the vision it has and the language that pervades the text," said Celik.

Speaking to reporters during a televised news conference, Celik said EU parliamentarians lose perspective when it comes to Turkey and that they should watch their language when talking about Erdogan.

Thursday’s resolution was passed by an overwhelming majority of MEPs, with 479 votes in favour and 37 against, with 107 abstentions.

Reporting from Brussels, FRANCE 24’s Méabh McMahon said the vote count showed that “the majority of political groups in the European Parliament wanted to see this temporary freeze.”

Thursday’s vote followed a lively parliamentary debate earlier this week, with the EU's foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini, arguing that such a vote would not yield positive results. Mogherini instead called for EU engagement with Turkey.

FRANCE 24's McMahon paraphrased Guy Verhofstadt, head of the Liberal group in the European Parliament, who argued that “it was actually the EU’s credibility that was at stake here, and that if it didn’t do anything it would look like the EU was looking away" while Erdogan installed what Verhofstadt called "an authoritarian regime."
 

(FRANCE 24 with AFP, AP, REUTERS)

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