Turkish PM: EU report on accession talks 'null and void'
The Turkish prime minister said Thursday that a report calling on EU member states to suspend Turkey's accession talks was "null and void", Anadolu reported.
Binali Yildirim told reporters in Ankara that Turkey cared about the decisions made by EU leaders not about those made by the members of the EU parliament.
"What we care about is the opinions of the leaders of the European Union, opinions of the European Union's top administration," Yildirim said.
He added that Turkey was still determined to be a member of the "EU family". However, he insisted that Ankara had alternatives, saying joining the bloc was not the country's sole option.
EU lawmakers on Thursday approved a 2016 Commission Report on Turkey, voting 477 to 64 in favor, which is calling on EU member states to suspend Turkey's accession talks if constitutional changes endorsed in an April 16 referendum go ahead.
Almost 100 lawmakers abstained in the vote, which is non-binding.
Among other things, the report calls on member states to "formally suspend the accession negotiations with Turkey without delay if the constitutional reform package is implemented unchanged".
Suspend pre-accession funds
This is a reference to the collection of wide-ranging constitutional proposals approved by the Turkish electorate in April.
The report also calls on EU institutions to suspend pre-accession funds if negotiations with Turkey are suspended.
Speaking after the vote, Turkish EU Minister Omer Celik told reporters in Ankara that the parliament had “no right to make such a call” and demanded that lawmakers “respect the will of the Turkish people”.
He also said that to demand changes to a constitutional decision approved by a referendum was not a democratic attitude.
He added Turkey’s reforms would be "implemented unchanged".
Before the vote on Thursday, Celik, in a news conference with Johannes Hahn, the EU's enlargement official, said: "The backbone of the relationship between Turkey and the EU are accession negotiations."
The minister -- stressing Turkey’s official commitment to EU membership -- said any proposal which fell short of accession negotiations would be against the nature of the relationship that Turkey and the EU have had up to now.
It is a non-binding vote in terms of EU decision making as the approved version of the report will be sent back to the European Commission to agree on the changes made by the parliament.
EU accession talks began in 2005. To gain membership, Turkey has to successfully conclude negotiations with the EU in 35 policy chapters that involve reforms and the adoption of European standards.
Negotiations, however, hit a stalemate in 2007 because of Turkey’s position on the Cyprus issue. German and French governments have also opposed the country’s full EU membership.