European Parliament’s vote on freezing membership talks has no value for Turkey: Erdoğan

European Parliament’s vote on freezing membership talks has no value for Turkey: Erdoğan

European Parliament’s vote on freezing membership talks has no value for Turkey: Erdoğan

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The European Parliament’s upcoming voting on freezing membership talks with Turkey has no value for the country, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said Nov. 23, repeating his criticism against Europe for “siding with terrorist organizations.”

“There will be a meeting at the European Parliament tomorrow and they will vote on EU talks with Turkey. I’m saying this in advance; this vote has no value for us, whatever the result is,” Erdoğan said in Istanbul. 

“We have made clear time and time again that we take care of European values more than many EU countries, but we could not see concrete support from Western friends ... None of the promises were kept,” the Turkish president said.

Speaking at the Standing Committee for Economic and Commercial Cooperation of the Organization of the Islamic Cooperation (COMCEC), the president added that the parliament’s vote was an indicator that the union protected and sided with terrorist organizations.

The European Parliament’s main groups said on Nov. 22 that they would vote this week to freeze membership talks with Turkey over its actions following a coup attempt against Erdoğan.

The vote in Strasbourg will take place on Nov. 24. 

It threatens to deepen the rift between Ankara and the European Union, although it will not be binding and European Union states are for the most part against halting the drawn-out accession process.

The Turkish Foreign Ministry has also underscored the non-binding nature of the vote, citing EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini’s urging that a negative result would have serious consequences in ties. 

“The European Parliament has no legal authority to terminate accession talks with Turkey. The vote would result in an advisory decision to end negotiations but it would not be legally binding,” diplomatic sources in Ankara told the Hürriyet Daily News on Nov. 23. 

Sources said the decision on commencing and ending full membership negotiations are given by the European Council, which requires the unanimity of all member countries. Turkey began full membership talks in 2005 but has only been able to open 16 chapters out of 35 until now. 

Although the vote is non-binding, Mogherini’s address to European lawmakers on Nov. 22 noted that a decision to suspend talks would have “consequences.” 

Describing the measures that Turkey has taken in the aftermath of the July 15 coup attempt as “legitimate,” she warned that freezing talks would not yield positive results for either side and could drag Turkey-EU ties into lose-lose cycle.

On the other hand, a group of European Parliament members stood on the other side. 

“No business as usual with Turkey; we support a freeze of EU accession negotiations,” said Manfred Weber, head of the center-right European People’s Party, the largest group in the parliament.

Gianni Pittella, leader of the Socialist Group, the second biggest in the assembly, added: “Turkey’s EU accession talks must be temporarily frozen. There are not the conditions to proceed now.” 

Pittella said it would send a “political message to Erdoğan” to stop the “mass detention, accusation of political leaders and MPs, repression of judges and journalists.” 

Erdoğan said on Nov. 23 that such a message was not acceptable. 

Liberal leader Guy Verhofstadt, the former prime minister of Belgium, said his group too was “asking to suspend the negotiations with Turkey.” 

Turkey and the EU agreed to speed up membership talks in March as part of an accord on curbing migrant flows into Greece in exchange for Turkey acquiring cash for migrants and visa-free access for its citizens.

But the process has neared collapse due to controversy over Turkey’s anti-terror code. 

Erdoğan warned the EU last week to make a decision by the end of this year on Turkey’s membership, saying he would otherwise call a referendum on the matter.