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Turkey-EU: Problem of Democracy or Religion?


During a plenary session in Strasbourg yesterday, the European Parliament passed a resolution on Turkey calling on the European Union and the European Commission to immediately stop  the negotiations with Ankara on EU accession if its authorities do not make the necessary changes in the constitutional reform.

477 MPs voted for the consultative resolution, and 64 against, RIA Novosti reported.

The document emphasizes that negotiations on Turkey's accession to the EU should be halted if the death penalty is restored in the country. The resolution criticizes the "large-scale, disproportionate and long-term negative impacts on a large number of citizens," following a failed revolution attempt of July 2016, including mass arrests, group dismissals, closure of a number of media outlets, secondary and higher education institutions, etc. 

At the same time, taking into consideration the importance of EU relations with Turkey, in particular in the fight against migration crisis and terrorism, the parliamentarians also pointed out the importance of Ankara's respect for democracy, legality and fundamental rights in the context of political cooperation between the parties.

Turkey's EU Affairs Minister Omer Celik said in response that the suspension of EU accession talks could have the worst consequences. He called that decision "a terrible mistake." Earlier, Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim, in his turn told that Ankara wanted the EU to present its vision of the future with reference to the role Turkey would play there.

However, German chancellor, the ruling coalition's leader Angela Merkel and her political team have also objected to Turkey's EU membership. This was stated in their pre-election program. "We refuse Turkey's full membership to the European Union, as that country did not fulfill the preconditions for membership. In addition, we are deeply concerned about the latest developments in the legal state of Turkey, particularly concerning the freedom of speech and the media."

In the recent months, the relations between Ankara and Brussels have been in deep crisis. The EU criticized the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for attempts to put pressure on the opposition and concentrate power in his hands. Turkey, on the background of deteriorating relations with the EU, is threatening Brussels to cancel the agreement to host refugees traveling to Europe, Radio Liberty reports.

According to the agreement between Brussels and Ankara, all the illegal refugees coming from Turkey to any of the Greek islands, will be sent back to Turkey. After the signing of this agreement in March 2016, the flow of refugees to European countries has been reduced.

Earlier Erdoğan said that the main factor in EU's non-acceptance of Turkey is religion. In addition, according to him, Turkey will not wait for the "European gates" forever and is ready to give up talks if some of the member states of the EU maintain Islamophobia and hostility towards Turkey.

Obviously, Turkey's conflict with the EU has been constantly deepening ever since. The country has been a candidate for EU membership for decades, but many European leaders have repeatedly objected to Turkey’s acceptance.

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