Turkey condemns European parliament committee call to suspend accession

In October, President Tayyip Erdogan said he would consider putting Turkey’s long-stalled bid to join the European Union to a referendum. (File/AFP)
Updated 21 February 2019
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Turkey condemns European parliament committee call to suspend accession

  • An EU committee cited disregard for human rights and civil liberties, influence on the judiciary, among others
  • Turkey says EU membership remains one of its top strategic goals even though the accession talks

ISTANBUL: Turkey criticized on Thursday as “unacceptable” a vote by the European Parliament Foreign Affairs Committee calling for the suspension of EU accession negotiations with it.
The Foreign Affairs Committee called on the European Commission and member states on Wednesday to formally suspend EU accession negotiations with Turkey, citing disregard for human rights and civil liberties, influence on the judiciary, and disputes over territory with Cyprus and other neighbors.
“It is absolutely unacceptable that the non-binding, advisory draft report is calling for a total suspension of our accession talks to the EU,” Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesman Hami Aksoy said in a statement.
“We expect the necessary corrections to be made and the final report to be more realistic, impartial and encouraging. Only such a report will be taken into consideration by our country.”
Turkey says EU membership remains one of its top strategic goals even though the accession talks, formally launched in 2004, have been stalled for years. Some EU leaders and officials have called for them to be ended.
“My expectation is that in two weeks a large majority of the EP will vote for the suspension of accession talks w/ Turkey, as EP Foreign Affairs (committee) did today,” Kati Piri, EU Rapporteur on Turkey, said in a tweet on Wednesday, referring to the European Parliament.
In October, President Tayyip Erdogan said he would consider putting Turkey’s long-stalled bid to join the European Union to a referendum, signalling exasperation with a process he says has been waylaid by prejudice against Muslims.
“Human rights violations and arrests of journalists occur on an almost daily basis while democracy and the rule of law in the country are undermined further,” European Parliament member Marietje Schaake said in a statement.
“This, in combination with the constitutional changes has made Turkey’s accession to the European Union impossible at this stage. The message of the Parliament today is crystal clear. We attach consequences to Erdogan’s authoritarian grip on power.”


Kuwait’s emir in Baghdad amid regional tensions

Updated 28 min 41 sec ago
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Kuwait’s emir in Baghdad amid regional tensions

  • This is the first official visit by the emir of Kuwait since 2012
  • KUNA said the meeting will focus on regional developments

BAGHDAD: Kuwait’s emir has arrived in Iraq for a rare official visit to the neighboring country amid rising tensions in the Arabian Gulf between Washington and Tehran.

Iraq’s President Barham Saleh received Emir Sheikh Sabah Al Ahmad Al Sabah at Baghdad’s airport on Wednesday.

Kuwait news agency KUNA said the visit, the first since 2012, will focus on regional developments in the wake of attacks on oil tankers last week near the strategic Strait of Hormuz.

Washington, which has accused Iran of carrying out the attacks on the oil tankers, has dispatched warships and bombers to the region and is sending 1,000 more troops to the Mideast. Iran denies it is behind the attacks.