July 6, 2017 - 18:10 AMT
PanARMENIAN.Net - The European Parliament called on Thursday, July 6 for Turkey's European Union accession talks to be suspended if Ankara fully implements plans to expand President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's powers, in a vote which Turkey dismissed as flawed and wrong, Reuters reveals.
The parliament has limited influence on Turkey's decades-old pursuit of EU membership, now in limbo after bitter exchanges between Ankara and some European countries, but the decision highlighted the gulf which has grown between the two sides.
EU leaders have been critical of Erdogan and his behavior toward opponents, both before and after an abortive military coup against him last July.
A year-long crackdown since the failed coup and the sweeping new powers which Erdogan won in a tightly fought referendum in April have raised concerns among Turkey's Western allies.
Erdogan says both the crackdown and the increased presidential powers are needed to help tackle serious challenges to Turkey's security both at home and beyond its borders.
The resolution passed by parliament in Strasbourg "calls on the Commission and the member states... to formally suspend the accession negotiations with Turkey without delay if the constitutional reform package is implemented unchanged."
Some constitutional changes approved in April have already been implemented - Erdogan has been able to return to lead the ruling AK Party, and members of a top judicial body have been changed. Other steps, such as scrapping the post of prime minister, are due to take place within two years.
Opposition parties and human rights groups say the changes threaten judicial independence and push Turkey toward one-man rule. The EU has also expressed concern, although many in the European Parliament believe the bloc has not gone far enough.
"The current strategy of the European Commission and EU leaders seems to wait silently for things to improve in Turkey," said the European Parliament's lead negotiator on Turkey, Kati Piri, criticizing a stance which she said was "feeding President Erdogan’s authoritarianism".