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.”


Saudi Arabia joins Arab anger over ‘theft of occupied Golan Heights’

Updated 12 min 9 sec ago
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Saudi Arabia joins Arab anger over ‘theft of occupied Golan Heights’

  • Israel seized part of the Golan during the 1967 Six-Day War, subsequently annexing it in 1981
  • US President Trump officially recognized Israel's sovereignty of the Golan Heights on March 25, 2019

JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia joined Arab states on Tuesday in condemning a decision by the United States to recognize the occupied Golan Heights as Israeli territory.

Breaking decades of international consensus, US President Donald Trump signed a proclamation at the White House on Monday recognizing Israeli sovereignty over the border area that Israel seized from Syria in 1967. 

Saudi Arabia firmly rejected the decision and affirmed its position that Golan Heights was occupied Syrian Arab land in accordance with the relevant international resolutions, Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported.

The declaration, made by the US, is a clear violation of the Charter of the United Nations and the principles of international law, the report said.

The US decision was a violation of Security Council resolutions 242 of 1967 and 497 of 1981, and would have devastating implications on the peace process in the Middle East, as well as security and stability in the region, Saudi Arabia’s official statement said.

Saudi Arabia called on all parties to respect the decisions of international legitimacy and the charter of the United Nations.

Meanwhile, the Arab League Secretary-General, Ahmed Aboul Gheit, said that the decision “does not change the area’s status” as illegally occupied territory,

Syria said the decision was a blatant attack on its sovereignty. 

“Trump does not have the right or the legal authority to legitimize the occupation,” a foreign ministry spokesman said.

Opposition chief Nasr Al-Hariri said Trump’s decision would “lead to more violence and instability, and it will have negative effects on efforts to engineer peace in the region.”

Lebanon said the move “violates all the rules of international law” and “undermines any effort to reach a just peace.”

“The Golan Heights are Syrian Arab land, no decision can change this, and no country can revisit history by transferring ownership of land from one country to another,” the Foreign Ministry said.