Underscoring growing unease, the European Union’s legislature on Thursday demanded that the bloc freeze membership negotiations with Turkey over the government’s heavy-handed crackdown following a failed coup in July. The European Parliament approved a non-binding resolution Thursday by a 479-37 margin with 107 abstentions and said the freeze should last until Ankara’s “disproportionate measures” under the state of emergency are lifted. Despite the parliamentary vote, EU officials have said that longstanding but unsuccessful talks should not immediately be halted.
By continuing the illusion of accession talks with an increasingly authoritarian regime, the EU is losing credibility, is fooling our citizens, and also betraying those Turkish citizens who look to Europe as their future.
Guy Verhofstadt, leader of the liberal ALDE group
Some EU nations have called for the suspension of the talks but the bloc is struggling to reach a common stance that would balance EU nations’ need for Ankara’s continued help to stop hundreds of thousands of refugees heading to Europe with their concerns about rights abuses. Anticipating the vote, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had already said 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.