EU Parliament votes for Turkish accession talks to be suspended

EU Parliament votes for Turkish accession talks to be suspended
The European Parliament has voted for Turkey's EU accession talks to be suspended if Ankara goes ahead with a planned constitutional reform which would grant sweeping powers to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

The parliament passed a resolution on Thursday, calling for the “[EU] Commission and the member states, in accordance with the Negotiating Framework, to formally suspend the accession negotiations with Turkey without delay if the constitutional reform package is implemented unchanged."

Responding to the EU Parliament's decision, Turkey's EU affairs minister, Omer Celik announced that Ankara does not accept the EU Parliament report.

Turkey's Foreign Ministry spokesman said it is based on false claims and allegations, and undermines the parliament’s own reputation, Reuters reports.

"We reject with the back of our hand any proposals that there should be strong cooperation between Turkey and the EU in other areas instead of accession talks," Omer Celik told reporters earlier on Thursday.

"The European Parliament has failed in its solidarity with Turkey following the coup attempt. We had expected strong support, but the call to end membership talks instead is wrong," Celik said.

It comes just one day after Turkey’s deputy prime minister, Numan Kurtulmus, told Reuters that Ankara was not responsible for the escalation of tensions with Brussels.

"Europe displaying inappropriate behavior towards Turkey is not a situation we can accept. Being against our President Erdogan is also not a rational stance from Europe. Europe must decide… do they really want to enlarge?" Kurtulmus said.

Turkey’s ties with the EU have deteriorated since last July, when a failed coup attempt prompted a government crackdown by Ankara.

Relations further deteriorated following an April referendum which will grant President Erdogan power to become the sole executive head of state, with authority to choose his own cabinet ministers, enact laws, call elections and declare states of emergency.

However, Turkey’s hopes of becoming an EU member were stalled long before the coup and referendum.

The EU previously laid out a list of 72 requirements for Ankara to meet before being able to join the bloc. Although Turkey fulfilled most of the conditions, EU officials say it failed to comply with the most important one, which was to relax its strict anti-terrorism laws, said to have been used to silence Erdogan's critics.