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Dutch gov’t asks EU to pressure Turkey over post-coup crackdown

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The Dutch government has asked other member countries of the European Union to formally warn the Turkish government that a crackdown on dissent following a failed coup attempt in July could lead to a freeze in membership talks.

During a meeting of representatives of Europe’s national governments on Thursday, Dutch diplomats suggested that the union should consider suspending the accession process for six months in protest at President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s crackdown following July’s coup attempt.

According to Dutch government representatives, any such move, which would satisfy a call from the European Parliament last week, would be a political signal to Ankara but a largely symbolic one that would reflect the fact that accession talks have been de facto on hold for months already.

On the other hand, the European Commission and most member states including Germany said they preferred to keep dialogue open with Turkey, a key strategic partner, despite concern over rights abuses.

On Wednesday, Dutch Foreign Minister Bert Koenders had given parliament in The Hague a commitment during a session that he would look into building an EU consensus on sending Turkey a signal. He also agreed with Dutch lawmakers, however, that the EU should remain engaged in dialogue with Turkey.

On Nov. 22, the European Parliament voted to suspend Turkey’s EU membership talks because of the Turkish government’s “disproportionate” response to the failed coup attempt.

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