A resolution calling for the freezing of European Union membership negotiations with Turkey if Ankara implements a constitutional overhaul, backed by a referendum in April, was adopted by a large majority of the vote in the European Parliament (EP) on Thursday.
The resolution, proposed by Turkey rapporteur for the EP Kati Piri and 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.”
The decision was grounded on the incompatibility of the reform package with the principle of separation of powers and the Copenhagen criteria.
A total of 638 out of 751 MEPs attended the vote, with 477 voting in favor of the resolution, while 64 rejected it and 94 abstained.
Opposition parties and human rights groups say the reforms threaten judicial independence and push Turkey toward one-man rule. The EU has also expressed concern.
The Venice Commission, a panel of legal experts from the Council of Europe, a rights body to which Turkey belongs, warned in March ahead of Turkey’s referendum that the proposed constitutional shakeup represented a “dangerous step backwards” for democracy. Ankara rejected the criticism.
The EP voted to freeze accession talks in another decision made in November 2016 because of the Turkish government’s “disproportionate” response to a failed coup attempt on July 15, 2016.
The resolution also condemned the failed coup attempt and terrorist attacks in Turkey, stating that the Turkish government has the right and responsibility to prosecute those responsible within the framework of the law and just prosecution.
Turkey’s EU accession talks began in 2005, but only one of the 35 policy areas — called “chapters” — has been closed. A country can join the EU only when it has met the criteria in all 35 chapters.
Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has been accusing the EU of siding with “terrorism” rather than supporting Turkey since the coup attempt.
Since the coup attempt, more than 154,694 people — including soldiers, academics, judges, journalists and Kurdish leaders — have been detained or dismissed over their alleged backing for the putsch, in what opponents, rights groups and some Western allies say is an attempt to crush all dissent.