EU Lawmakers Call for 'Alternatives' to Turkey’s Accession to Bloc

© REUTERS / Murad SezerA European Union (L) and Turkish flag fly outside a hotel in Istanbul, Turkey, May 4, 2016.
A European Union (L) and Turkish flag fly outside a hotel in Istanbul, Turkey, May 4, 2016. - Sputnik International
Leading members of the European Parliament called for reassessment of EU - Turkey relations in the light of the recent referendum on constitutional amendments in the country, stressing that talks on the country's accession the bloc should be suspended.

MOSCOW (Sputnik) — Members of the European Parliament called on Brussels on Wednesday to reassess the relations with Turkey and halt the talks on the country's accession to the bloc, the European Parliament said in a press release.

"Europe is not closing the door to Turkey, but recent developments prompt it to look for alternatives to Turkey’s accession to the EU, said MEPs in a debate… Many MEPs voiced concern at the way Turkey’s referendum, which backed expanding presidential powers, was conducted, calling it unfair. They said it is time to reassess EU — Turkey relations and start a new chapter," the statement said.

According to the press release, a number of members of the European Parliament could not see Turkey ever becoming a full EU member, while others still hoped that "it would be enough to suspend the negotiations, leaving the possibility for Turkey to change its current course."

An expanded customs union, trade, student exchanges, and cooperation on security and migration were said to be the main spheres of further cooperation with Turkey.

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan addresses his supporters during a rally for the upcoming referendum, in Izmir, Turkey, April 9, 2017. - Sputnik International
'Ankara is Deepening the Rift Between Turkey and EU by Its Own Hands'
Turkey signed an association agreement with the then-European Community in 1963, and submitted a membership application in 1987. Talks on Ankara's membership of the European Union began in 2005 but have been repeatedly suspended due to various obstacles, such as the failed July 2016 coup attempt.

In March 2016, Turkey and the European Union agreed on a deal under which Ankara pledged to take back all undocumented migrants who arrive in EU states through its territory in exchange for the accommodation of Syrian refugees on a one-for-one basis in Turkey and major concessions on membership and visas. In August 2016, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned that Ankara would withdraw from the deal if the European Union failed to grant a visa waiver for Turkish citizens.

A number of EU politicians said earlier in April that the issue of Turkey’s EU membership was no longer on the bloc's immediate agenda after the outcome of the country's constitutional referendum on expansion of presidential powers, as well as other issues, such as the possible reinstatement of capital punishment.

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