EU votes to suspend Turkey accession talks

MEPs' decision based on 'false claims and allegations', says Turkish foreign ministry

Recep Tayyip Erdogan
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan delivers a speech during the AK Party's provincial meeting in Ankara
(Image credit: Adem Altan/AFP/Getty Images)

The European Parliament has voted for the suspension of Turkey's accession talks to the EU, arguing that the country does not meet the democratic criteria to join the bloc.

The motion passed by a wide margin, with support from the EU's largest party groups, German broadcaster Deutsche Welle reports.

Turkey's EU affairs minister said Ankara regarded today's vote as invalid, Reuters reports, while foreign ministry spokesman Huseyin Muftugolu said it was based on "false claims and allegations".

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Putting forward the vote, Kati Piri, the European Parliament's rapporteur on Turkey, recommended Ankara's relationship with the EU "should be redefined as a series of agreements based on mutual interests such as trade, migration and security" rather than full membership, says The Australian.

She said: "We are not calling to stop all dialogue or cooperation; talking about integration is just not realistic at this moment.

"The Turks are showing that they are not interested in membership, but the EU is also showing it is not committed to Turkey."

The European Commission and EU member states have previously rejected calls to formally suspend talks as Turkey's accession process is already effectively "in limbo".

European Commission and constituent EU leaders have criticised the authoritarian rule of Recep Tayyip Erdogan following his crackdown against political opponents after the failed coup in July 2016.

Erdogan's powers were further expanded in April, when a controversial referendum gave him the option of reinstating the death penalty - a practice the EU outlaws.

However, the bloc does not want to undermine the 2016 agreement in which Turkey stopped Middle East migrants crossing into Greece, easing the crisis that had crippled parts of EU infrastructure and "threatened EU unity", Reuters says.

Meanwhile, a report from the Stockholm Center for Freedom claims Turkey's failed coup was staged by the government in order to justify a clampdown against political dissenters.

It says the uprising was "a false flag" orchestrated "Erdogan and his henchmen to create a pretext for a mass persecution of critics and opponents in a state of perpetual emergency".

The organisation added it was "fairly confident that this attempt did not even qualify a coup bid in any sense".

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