No new chapters on Turkey's EU membership talks
No new chapters will be opened in EU membership talks with Turkey as a result of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's strong-armed response to a failed coup attempt in July, according to a document from the EU presidency released on Tuesday.
"Under the currently prevailing circumstances, no new chapters are considered for opening," the statement read.
The so-called presidency conclusion represents the first concrete EU decision to be taken in direct response to the Turkish government's crackdown on political opponents and the media following the July 15 putsch.
"Nobody is satisfied with the current developments in Turkey," German State Minister Michael Roth told journalists.
Austrian Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz had called for a freeze in negotiations with Turkey, going one step further than other member states and thereby preventing European affairs ministers from reaching a unanimous decision during their meeting in Brussels.
Days after crushing the coup, Erdogan declared a state of emergency and has since ruled by decree during a months-long purge of thousands from the military and civil service. Journalists and members of the political opposition have also been detained and jailed as Turkish authorities target alleged supporters of US-based Islamic preacher Fethullah Gulen. Erdogan holds Gulen responsible for the putsch, but Gulen has denied playing any role in the event.
Membership negotiations between the European Union and Turkey began in 2005.
They have repeatedly stalled on geopolitical tensions over the divided island of Cyprus and, more recently, over concerns for the rule of law and freedom of expression in Turkey.
Last month, the European Parliament voted overwhelmingly in favour of freezing the EU's membership negotiations with Turkey. The non-binding vote had no legal impact but sent a strong political signal to Ankara and the European Commission, which is leading the negotiations. EU affairs ministers met in preparation for a summit of EU leaders on Thursday. (dpa)
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