EU Membership Talks for Turkey Hit Breaking Point

EU Membership Talks for Turkey Hit Breaking Point

Negotiations for Turkey to join the European Union might be suspended. The European Parliament is going to put it to a vote this Thursday. EU membership talks for Turkey have consisted of a long and troubled process. The relationship between Brussels and Ankara is tense right now. The very future of EU membership for Turkey is at stake. After an exchange of statements between EU officials and Turkish officials, Turkey joining the European Union seems improbable. That could mean a shift in the balance of power in the region, as Turkey could turn elsewhere for the support it wanted from the European Union.

The European Parliament Will Vote

The vote in the European Parliament is advisory and doesn’t have any binding power. However, Turkey started accession talks with the European Union in 2005. It’s been a long effort on the part of Turkey to build up their economy and meet various other standards of the European Union. So, a break in the negotiation process brought on by the vote in the European Parliament is likely to upset Turkey. The country has been reacting to EU criticism of its internal affairs anyway.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey is trying to present an image of a strong leader after he was challenged by a coup d’état this July. The military coup failed and the situation brought on a state of emergency in Turkey. The government made use of the increased prerogatives under the state of emergency to crack down on political opponents as well as the media. Thousands of public workers were fired, university professors lost tenure and some found their civil liberties restricted.

Turkey Could Give Up Its European Ambitions

The President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker issued a warning to Turkey regarding the recent developments. He said that the future of Turkey as an EU country hangs in the balance. He also urged President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to put an end to exacting retribution for the July coup.

Turkey’s government did not react well to EU criticism. Turkey was already waiting on significant progress to take place regarding EU membership talks. It has suggested that if there is no progress by the end of this year, it is going to pull out of the accession process. So, there could be a scenario where Turkey abandons any plans to join the European Union by itself.

Policy makers and analysts were critical of the decision of the European Parliament. They said that forcing Turkey’s hand might not work. On the contrary, it could have the adverse effect of Turkey hardening its position on issues like the death penalty for example. Also, it could take Turkey further away from Europe. This, at a time when cooperation on issues such as the conflict in Syria and the refugee crisis is vital.

Carl Bildt is a former prime minister of Sweden. He used strong words on Twitter to express his point of view regarding the actions of the European Union.

“It would be a strategic stupidity of the first order for the E.U. to unilaterally abandon its relationship with Turkey,”

said Carl Bildt.

Image source: Wikipedia