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EU parliament asks governments to suspend Turkey membership talks

MEPs criticise the alarming lack of freedoms after the failed coup attempt in July. Christians in the country denounce growing pressure on churches.

SOURCES Euronews, BBC, Evangelical Focus, The Telegraph AUTHOR Evangelical Focus STRASBOURG 24 NOVEMBER 2016 16:30 h GMT+1
The EU parliament in Strasbourg. / EU Parliament CC

An overwhelming majority of the European Parliament members asked the European Commission and 28 national governments to impose a “temporary freeze” on the Turkey EU membership talks.



The resolution was passed with 479 votes in favour and 37 against, with 107 abstentions.



Most representatives believe the steep reduction of liberties in Turkey after the failed coup attempt in July makes it impossible for the country to join the European Union.



About 120,000 Turks have been dismissed or suspended from their public sector jobs, 40,000 arrested, scores of journalists rounded up and opposition pro-Kurdish MPs detained. The purges have been seen by some as an attempt to crush all dissent.



 



TURKEY REACTS



Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the decision in Strasbourg “has no value” in Turkey’s eyes and the bloc will have to “live with the consequences”.



He has also again accused Europe of siding with terrorists.



The Turkish leader said this after it was known that a new bomb attack against a government building in the southern city of of Adana killed two people died and wounded.



 



A PROCESS STARTED IN 2015



Nonetheless, the European parliament decision is not binding for the European Commission.



Turkey's EU accession talks began eleven years ago, but only one of the 35 policy areas - called “chapters” - has been closed.



A country is only ready to join the EU when it has met the criteria in all 35 chapters.



 



PRESSURE ON CHRISTIANS IN TURKEY



One of the groups suffering under the purge of the last months are Christians. The Protestant Association in the country asked the government to stop the intimidation and the pressure put on the churches.



Erdogan’s government has targeted foreign Christians in the country. A pastor and a PhD student, both US nationals, were defined as a risk for the country’s security under the new “state of emergency”. They were detained to be deported.



 



PRESIDENT SCHULZ LEAVES EU PARLIAMENT



In the same Thursday 24 November session of the European parliament, the President of the chamber, Martin Schulz, announced he is leaving his role on a EU level.



Schulz will probably become a candidate in the next German elections, although he has not confirmed if wants to become the next SPD (Social-Democrats) leader to challenge German Chancellor Angela Merkel.


 

 


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Opinions expressed are those of their respective contributors and do not necessarily represent the views of Evangelical Focus.