Constitutional changes would freeze Turkey’s EU accession bid, says parliament’s rapporteur

By bne IntelliNews April 26, 2017

The European Union would formally suspend Turkey's accession talks on membership of the bloc if it adopts the constitutional changes backed in the April 16 referendum, Reuters reported the European Parliament's Turkey rapporteur as saying on April 26.

“As Turkey with such a constitution cannot become an EU member, it also doesn't make sense to continue discussions on accession,” Katie Piri, a Dutch centre-left European lawmaker who serves as the rapporteur, told reporters ahead of a plenary debate on relations with Turkey.

The EU lawmaker, however, also reportedly suggested that the bloc could step up talks on enhancing the customs union with Ankara. The process could give the Europeans leverage to persuade Turkey to reverse policies which EU leaders say are undermining Turkish democracy, Piri said.

EU foreign ministers will discuss relations with Ankara when they meet in Malta on April 28.

However, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, energised by his claimed narrow victory in the popular poll on introducing a powerful executive presidency, shows little sign of making concessions to Brussels.

“The EU is closing its doors on Turkey and Turkey isn't closing its doors on anybody,” he said on April 25.

Bloomberg, meanwhile, on April 26 reported Turkish PM Binali Yildirim as telling its reporter in an interview in Ankara that the EU needs to sit down and make a decision on whether it is open to non-Christian countries or not, because “there’s no point in both sides wasting time”.

The Turkish government has also been angered by the April 25 decision of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) to reopen the human rights monitoring procedure against Turkey until “serious concerns” about respect for human rights, democracy and the rule of law “are addressed in a satisfactory manner”.

“Ankara does not recognise the decision by PACE. The decision was entirely political,” responded Erdogan.

Erdogan reiterated that Turkey could opt to hold a referendum on whether to continue with EU accession talks.

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