[BREAKING] European Parliament votes in favor of freezing talks with Turkey

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Members of the European Parliament take part in a voting session at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, eastern France, on November 22, 2016. / AFP PHOTO / FREDERICK FLORIN

The European Parliament has voted to suspend Turkey’s EU membership talks because of the Turkish government’s “disproportionate” response to a failed coup attempt that took place on July 15.

A total of 479 deputies voted in favor of imposing a “temporary freeze” on the talks with Turkey while 37 deputies voted against the non-binding resolution.

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.

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has been accusing the EU of siding with “terrorism” rather than supporting Turkey since the coup attempt.

In a speech on Wednesday, Erdoğan said the vote by the European Parliament on whether to halt EU membership talks with Ankara “has no value in our eyes” and again accused Europe of siding with terrorist organizations.

“We have made clear time and again that we observe European values more than many EU countries, but we have not seen concrete support from our Western friends … None of their promises were kept,” he told an Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) conference in İstanbul.

Since July 15, more than 115,000 people — including soldiers, academics, judges, journalists and Kurdish leaders — have been detained or dismissed over their alleged backing for the putsch, in what opponents, rights groups and some Western allies say is an attempt to crush all dissent.

Erdoğan, and many Turks, were angered by the Western response to the putsch, viewing it as more concerned about the rights of the plotters than the gravity of the events themselves, in which more than 240 people were killed as rogue soldiers commandeered fighter jets and tanks.

He has also repeatedly accused Europe of harboring members of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) terrorist group, which has waged a three-decade insurgency against the Turkish state and is deemed a terrorist organization by the EU and United States as well as Turkey.

Erdoğan is still seething over the presence of protesters sympathetic to the PKK near an EU-Turkey summit in Brussels in March, which he said at the time demonstrated the EU’s “two-faced” behavior.

“On one hand you declare the PKK a terrorist organization, on the other you have terrorists roaming freely in the streets of Brussels. What kind of sincerity is this?” he said on Wednesday.

 

 

 

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