A scandalous decision from EU Parliament on Turkey membership
The European Parliament has backed a report calling on EU member states to suspend Turkey's accession talks if constitutional changes endorsed in an April 16 referendum go ahead.
The European Parliament on Thursday asked for Turkey's European Union accession talks to be suspended if Ankara implements a constitutional overhaul, backed by a referendum in April. Turkey rejected the parliament's move, calling it an attempt to "sabotage" relations with the EU.
The parliament has limited influence on the issue and Turkey said on Thursday it rejected proposals that it drop its EU membership bid in favour of cooperation in other areas.
The resolution passed by the parliament on Thursday "calls on the Commission and the member states, in accordance with the Negotiating Framework, to formally suspend the accession negotiations with Turkey without delay if the constitutional reform package is implemented unchanged."
Lawmakers on Thursday overwhelmingly approved the 2016 Commission Report on Turkey, voting 477 to 64 in favor. Almost 100 lawmakers abstained in the vote, which is non-binding.
The parliament calls on the EU's 28 states to formally suspend the talks "without delay" if the constitutional reforms are implemented without change in Turkey.
This is a reference to the collection of wide-ranging constitutional proposals approved by the Turkish electorate in April.
The report also calls on EU institutions to suspend pre-accession funds if negotiations are suspended with Turkey.
It is a non-binding vote in terms of EU decision making.
EU Minister Ömer Çelik, speaking earlier in Ankara during a news conference with Johannes Hahn, the EU's enlargement official said: "The backbone of the relationship between Turkey and the EU are accession negotiations."
Çelik -- stressing Turkey's official commitment to EU membership -- said any proposal which fell short of accession negotiations would be against the nature of the relationship that Turkey and the EU have had up to now.
EU accession talks began in 2005. To gain membership, Turkey has to successfully conclude negotiations with the EU in 35 policy chapters that involve reforms and the adoption of European standards.
Negotiations, however, hit a stalemate in 2007 because of Turkey's position on the Cyprus issue. German and French governments have also opposed the country's full EU membership.