STRASBOURG, France—Turkey’s EU membership talks should be suspended if proposed changes to the constitution go ahead, as these go against EU membership criteria, warned members of the European Parliament on Thursday.
The resolution was approved by 477 votes to 64, with 97 abstentions.
The resolution passed by parliament in Strasbourg “calls on the Commission and the member states… to formally suspend the accession negotiations with Turkey without delay if the constitutional reform package is implemented unchanged.”
Turkey was quick to dismiss the vote, with its European Affairs Minister Omer Celik saying that Ankara regarded Thursday’s vote in Strasbourg as invalid.
“This decision, which is based on false claims and allegations, is trampling the reputation of the institution in question,” Turkey’s foreign ministry said in a statement, referring to the European Parliament. “This decision is of no value for us.”
European Parliament members said they are concerned about Turkey backsliding in the rule of law, human rights, media freedom, and the fight against corruption. They condemn the repeatedly declared support for the reintroduction of the death penalty by the Turkish President, which would put into question Turkey’s membership in the Council of Europe and lead to an immediate end of EU accession talks.
Taking note of the outcome of Turkey’s recent referendum and the expansion of presidential powers, the resolution calls on the EU Commission and the EU national governments “to formally suspend the accession negotiations with Turkey without delay if the constitutional reform package is implemented unchanged.”
”This Parliament speaks with one, clear and loud voice in condemning the Turkish government’s serious decline in democratic standards, and continues to support the Turkish population – millions of whom would like to continue to see the EU as an anchor for reforms in their country. Together with you [Turkish people] we hope ‘Adalet’ (justice) will return to Turkey soon,” said Parliament’s rapporteur Kati Piri of the Netherlands.
In their annual assessment of Turkey’s reform progress European Parliament members said that 2016 was a difficult year for Turkey as a result of the war in Syria, the influx of refugees, a string of heinous terror attacks and a coup attempt.
They condemned the coup attempt and expressed their solidarity with the people of Turkey, but at the same time expressed regret at the Turkish government’s disproportionate response, resulting in large-scale dismissal of civil servants, the closing of media outlets, the arrest of journalists, judges and human rights defenders, and the closure of schools and universities.
The Parliament is planning to send an ad-hoc delegation to Ankara in the autumn with the aim of renewing parliamentary dialogue.