Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said today (23 November) that a European Parliament vote set to back a freeze of membership talks with Ankara over its relentless post-coup crackdown would have “no value”.
The non-binding vote set for tomorrow threatens to escalate tensions between the European Union and Turkey, which reached new heights in the wake of the 15 July failed putsch.
But EU member states, with the exception of Austria, are so far all in favour of keeping the talks on track despite alarm over the extent of the crackdown that has seen almost 37,000 placed under arrest.
“I want to say in advance from here and address the whole world watching on their TV screens — this vote has no value at all, no matter what result emerges,” Erdoğan told a meeting of the Organisation of the Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in Istanbul.
“It is not possible for me to even digest the message that they want to deliver,” he said.
The European Parliament’s main groups said yesterday they will vote to freeze membership talks with Turkey because of the crackdown.
Turkey and the EU had agreed to speed up membership talks after both sides reached a deal in March to curb migrant flows towards the European Union.
But the process has stalled after the failed bid by a rogue group in the army to bring down the Turkish government.
The mass arrests and job dismissals as well as measures against Turkish media in the ensuing crackdown triggered a sharp reaction from EU politicians and rights watchdogs.
Erdoğan however remained defiant, saying on Wednesday that: “Those hands raised up and down (in the parliament vote) will not interrupt this country’s fight for its independence and future.”
He said the vote was an indicator of the fact that the EU took the side of “terror organisations”.
‘Words not kept’
Turkey formally applied to become an EU member in 1987 and accession talks only began in 2005, even though Ankara’s aspirations to become part of the bloc dates back to the 1960s.
Erdoğan lashed out at what he called “lack of concrete support” from the EU and added: “On the contrary, commitments made have never been fulfilled, words given have not been kept.”
The Turkish strongman urged Islamic countries to join their forces to end the West’s “double standards” which meant any leader who dared raise criticism was labelled a dictator.
“If we remain silent, they will keep rolling out the red carpet to tyrants whose hands are bloody… and stigmatising as a dictator those who criticise them,” he added.
Erdoğan said if the West called someone a dictator, that meant “he is good in my eyes”.
He said Donald Trump was also being accused of being a dictator after his election as president, denouncing protests against his impending assumption of power.
“They have started to call him a dictator. In different European countries, they got out on the street and started saying ‘dictator’,” he said.
“I thought you were democrats? Isn’t the ballot box democracy? Isn’t respect for the result of the ballot box democracy? Why are you not respecting the result of the ballot box?”