The European Parliament passed a resolution on Thursday calling for the European Commission to suspend negotiations in the wake of the Turkish leader’s brutal crackdown on oppenents following last year’s failed coup.
President Erdogan narrowly won a referendum in April giving him sweeping new constitutional powers, with the reinstatement of the death penalty high on his list of priorities.
European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker has previously described the death penalty as a “red line’ that would prevent Turkey becoming an EU member.
Today, MEPs in Strasbourg voted overwhelmingly in favour of calling off accession talks with Turkey unless the proposed constitutional reforms were modified.
Kati Piri, the European Parliament’s lead negotiator on Turkey, said: “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.”
EU officials are dismayed at a referendum result that would turn Turkey from a parliamentary democracy into a presidential republic, with the office of Prime Minister eroded.
Some of the proposals are in direct contravention of EU policy – the death penalty, for example, is outlawed in all circumstances by the European Court of Human Rights.
But Turkish officials have rejected the resolution.
Turkey’s EU Affairs Minister, Omer Celik, said: “The European Parliament has failed in its solidarity with Turkey following the coup attempt.
“We had expected strong support, but the call to end membership talks instead is wrong.”
In a statement, the Turkish Foreign Ministry said: “This decision, which is based on false claims and allegations, is trampling the reputation of the institution in question [the European Parliament].
“This decision is of no value for us.”
Turkey’s ties with its European allies have deteriorated since last July’s abortive coup. with Turkey accusing some European states of not showing enough support.
EU leaders have been critical of Erdogan and his behaviour toward opponents, both before and after the abortive coup.
But they do not want to undermine an agreement struck last year whereby Turkey effectively stopped migrants reaching Greece, easing a crisis that had threatened EU unity.