European Parliament backs freeze of Turkish membership talks


Strasbourg (France) (AFP)

The European Parliament on Thursday voted in favour of halting membership talks with Turkey over its post-coup crackdown, in a vote that President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had already branded worthless.

The non-binding motion approved by MEPs said parliament "calls... on the Commission and on the Member States to initiate a temporary freeze of the on-going accession negotiations with Turkey."

The assembly in Strasbourg, France, said however that it "remains committed to keep Turkey anchored to the EU."

The motion was approved by 479 votes to 37, with 107 abstentions.

Tensions between the EU and Turkey have soared in the wake of the failed July 15 failed putsch.

A furious Erdogan said on Wednesday that "I want to say in advance from here and address the whole world watching on their TV screens -- this vote has no value at all, no matter what result emerges."

"It is not possible for me to even digest the message that they want to deliver."

Europe's message has however been increasingly clear about its concerns over rights and democracy in Turkey, especially over the coup crackdown that has seen almost 37,000 arrested.

While the vote will have no concrete effect as EU member states with the exception of Austria so far want to keep the talks on track, it is yet another blow to relations that seemed to be accelerating just months ago.

Turkey and the EU had agreed to speed up the long-stalled membership talks after both sides reached a deal in March to curb migrant flows towards the European Union.