European Parliament votes to end accession talks with Turkey
The European parliament Thursday voted overwhelmingly to end EU accession talks with Turkey.
The majority of lawmakers in the European Parliament voted to halt membership talks with Turkey after Ankara's post-coup crackdown on the opposition with potential ties to US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen.
More than 110,000 people in Turkey - including soldiers, academics, judges, journalists and Kurdish leaders - have been suspended from their positions or dismissed over their alleged backing for the plotters of a failed military coup in July. Some 36,000 have been arrested and media outlets have been shut.
The European parliament members voting in Strasbourg said the parliament "strongly condemns the disproportionate repressive measures taken in Turkey since the failed military coup attempt (in July last)." The anti-Turkey resolution was approved by 479 votes to 37, with 107 abstentions.
The Turkish EU affairs minister, Omer Celik, reacted promptly to the vote, calling it "null and void" and saying it "breached basic European values." He said that the European Parliament "loses perspective when it comes to Turkey."
His comments echo those of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan ahead of the vote.
Addressing a meeting of the Organization for Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in Istanbul on Wednesday, President Erdogan said: "Let me say this in advance... Whatever the result is, in our eyes this vote has no value."
"This country's struggle for its stability and future won't be interrupted by (European legislators') raising and lowering their hands," Erdogan said. "This nation has shown the world (during the failed coup attempt) that it is not a fair-weather democrat and that it will risk its life for its rights, its freedoms and its honor."
Erdogan called on countries of the OIC to stand up to the West where, he said, Muslims were being confronted with "double standards, prejudice, alienation" and were being attacked.
Erdogan has suggested that Turkey could hold a referendum on the future of Turkey's EU negotiations and that his country could join the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, which includes Russia and China, as an alternative to the EU.
Nearly three decades after its official bid to join the European club, Turkey is not yet a European Union member. Talks on possible EU membership for Turkey have been taking place since 1963, when Ankara and Brussels drafted an association agreement stating the country would aim to be a member of the bloc.
According to Reuters, President Erdogan, and many Turks, were angered by the Western response to the failed coup, viewing it as more concerned about the rights of the plotters than the gravity of the events themselves, in which more than 240 people were killed as rogue soldiers commandeered fighter jets and tanks.
Erdogan talks of joining the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO)
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has revived his pet topic of joining the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) in place of the European Union, Turkish journalist Semih Idiz says adding: His call comes at a time when Turkey's ties with the West are at an all-time low because of Ankara's refusal to meet Western standards of democracy, veering toward authoritarian rule instead.
The SCO is defined as "a Eurasian political, economic and military organization." Joining it would mean a radical change of sides for Turkey, Idiz said and warned that if it were to happen, it would also have serious regional and global ramifications, since Ankara would most probably have to not only give up on its EU bid, but also its NATO membership.
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