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Turkey slams European motion to halt EU accession talks

EU Minister Celik dismisses European Parliament motion as 'null and void'

24.11.2016
Turkey slams European motion to halt EU accession talks

By Ayse Humeyra Atilgan

ISTANBUL

Turkey slammed a European Parliament motion on Thursday which urged the EU to halt accession talks with Ankara. 

Turkey's Minister for EU Affairs Omer Celik described the motion as "null and void".

Speaking at a news conference in southern Adana province, Celik said the motion was not "something to be taken seriously".

Adopted Thursday by 479 votes to 37, with 107 abstentions, the motion called on "the Commission and on the Member States to initiate a temporary freeze of the ongoing accession negotiations with Turkey".

"We would respect the motion if it was constructive despite being critical [of Turkey]. However, this motion is politically inconsistent," Celik said. 

Pointing out that it was a non-binding and non-legislative motion, the minister said: 

"They adopted it for political purposes. Those who want to give us a message should know that the parliament's message would not get through the Kapikule Border Gate [a crossing point between Turkey and the West]."

In the motion, MEPs strongly condemned the "disproportionate repressive measures" taken by the Turkish government since the July 15 failed coup attempt. These "violate basic rights and freedoms protected by the Turkish Constitution", they claimed.

The text also said Turkey used “non-proportional security measures” during the country’s state of emergency, extended for another 90 days in October.

Celik also denied those claims and said: "The measures taken in the aftermath of the July 15 coup night are not unlawful."

The minister called on "prudent” figures in the West to save the EU from the “vicious cycle it has been in".

"There is no crisis between Turkey and EU, but it is a crisis of political inconsistency within the EU."

EU Minister Celik later gave a speech at the Turkish Parliament and reiterated his criticisms over the European Parliament motion.

“From our point of view, the European Parliament decision, which came today, is a manifestation of the mistake made by mainstream politics towards extreme right’s wishes and evaluations,” he said at Turkish Parliament. 

‘Decision has no importance’

Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim also criticized the European Parliament's motion, saying: "This decision does not have any importance for us."

Responding to journalists' questions in Ankara, Yildirim said Turkey's relations with the EU were already poor.

Recalling recent EU remarks that Turkey was “indispensable for security", Yildirim said he expected the leaders of EU member states to “lift up their voice against this lack of vision". 

President of the Turkish Parliament’s Committee on European Union Harmonization, Mehmet Kasim Gulpinar, said the EU had harbored a negative attitude against Turkey for two years.

"The decision, whether it is positive or not, does not have any importance after all that has happened," he said, adding that the EU had prevaricated on Turkish membership for 53 years.

'Turkish Nation refuses European Parliament's decision'

Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leader Devlet Bahceli slammed the European Parliament for not cutting loose ties with terrorism. 

"[The European Parliament] registered its insincere and cold view on Turkey, and revealed its ulterior motive again. The Turkish nation refuses the European Parliament's decision. The MHP curses this groundless and invertebrate decision."

Turkish Family and Social Policies Minister Fatma Betul Sayan Kaya said the decision was declared null and void. "Turkey is a country in which the people stake a claim to the EU's values of democracy, human rights, freedom," she said.

'Decision humiliates European Parliament'

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told Anadolu Agency that the European Parliament decision had no validity for Turkey.

"Essentially, the decision humiliates the European Parliament and the European Union," he said. "The European Parliament brought its credibility to ground with this decision."

Cavusoglu said the U.K. had exited from the EU due to the bloc's lack of vision and esteem.

"The EU should [...] learn lessons from its mistakes as soon as possible," he added. "If they want to bring Turkey to its knees with these kind of decisions, this is useless." 

'It was obvious after July 15'

Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus has slammed the European Parliament’s latest decision regarding Turkey-EU relations.

"We see altogether how biased the decision that shows hostile perceptions against Turkey is,” Kurtulmus told a reception held in Yunus Emre Institute in London on the occasion of Teachers’ Day.

“We do not need to take it seriously or make long comments on this decision. It was obvious from the evening of July 15 and the following developments. We hoped our friends in Europe had taken sides with Turkey from the start of the bloody coup attempt of July 15 and exhibited their political strength against this antidemocratic gang. But unfortunately, we received very little support.”

*Emin Avundukluoglu and Gurhan Kartal contributed to this story from Ankara and London respectively.

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