EU AND TURKEY TO SUFFER IF TIES BROKEN OFF: EXPERTS

ANKARA, Turkey -- The European Union's hardening stance toward Ankara would not make the Turkish government suddenly get in line with Brussels' norms, but both the EU and Turkey will suffer in case of break-off in ties, local foreign policy experts said.

On Thursday, the European Parliament approved a motion to temporarily freeze accession talks with Turkey.

The vote is not binding, since the decision ultimately rests with the EU member states. The move aims to ratchet up pressure on the Turkish government which has been accused of using "disproportionate repressive measures" following a failed coup attempt on July 15.

"If European deputies think President Tayyip Erdogan and the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) will suddenly get in line with Brussels because of the vote, they are daydreaming," Murat Yetkin, columnist and editor in chief of Hurriyet Daily News, said.

"Erdogan had already vowed in advance that he would not be affected by any result of the vote, positive or negative," he added.

Erdogan, moreover, has suggested that Ankara could go for a referendum in 2017 to pull out of the membership process with the EU if there is no progress by the end of the year. He hit out at the European vote, saying it had "no value at all."

Support for the EU membership among Turks has declined as the talks stalled and Turkey is considered unlikely to join the bloc in the near future.

"It's not realistic to talk about membership perspective, at the moment," according to Soli Ozel, a daily Haberturk columnist and academician in Kadir Has University.

Since the start of membership negotiations in 2005, the EU conducted Turkey course in "clumsiness and shortsightedness" and has lost its influence on Ankara, Ozel said.

He recalled that the EU could not open negotiation chapters on fundamental rights, rule of law and judiciary.

"Brussels was an onlooker as Turkey was getting far away from EU norms," he stated, adding that Ankara was already eyeing "new horizons."

If European leaders do not make efforts to engage with Turkey, then the outcome would influence their domestic matters as well, according to Guven Sak, managing director of the Economic Policy Research Foundation of Turkey.

"Turkey is a large Muslim country with a huge diaspora in Europe. It is a sensitive membrane between Europe and Middle Eastern and Asian refugees," he said.

EU leaders will meet in mid-December and the EU decision puts pressure on member states to review Turkey's EU bid.

But European leaders seem unwilling to go that far; merely Austria has publicly proposed suspending the negotiations.

A formal, binding procedure to suspend Turkish accession talks has not been invoked by the vote.

The European Commission or one-third of EU member states would first need to make a formal proposal to suspend the Turkish accession talks and a majority of the member states would then have to vote in favor of the measure for it to pass.

Ending the talks with Turkey would further endanger a fragile deal between Ankara and Brussels reached in March aiming to stem the flow of migrants to Greece from Turkey.

Last week, President Erdogan threatened he could tear up the migration deal and open border gates "if EU goes too far.

Source: Nam News Network