Verhofstadt echoes calls to freeze Turkey EU accession talks
Parliament's ALDE group Chair Guy Verhofstadt has joined a growing chorus of calls for the EU to freeze its accession talks with Turkey.
Tensions have been escalating between Turkey and the EU | Photo credit: Press Association
This follows similar comments this week by EPP group leader Manfred Weber.
Verhofstadt's comments on Wednesday come amid a sharp decline in relations between the two sides in recent days, with Tururkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan likening the Netherlands to "a banana republic."
Erdoğan has also demanded international organisations impose sanctions on the Netherlands, and accused countries in the west of Islamophobia.
- Manfred Weber calls for freeze on Turkish EU accession talks
- Kati Piri: EU must freeze accession talks with Turkey
- MEPs issue further calls for suspension of Turkey-EU talks
He added, "I have said that I had thought that Nazism was over, but I was wrong."
Speaking in Parliament in Strasbourg, Verhofstadt said, "These comments are ironic, coming from a man who wants to install a totalitarian regime in his country."
He accused Erdoğan of cynicism for advocating freedom of speech while journalists are imprisoned in Turkey.
"He points a finger at our countries, including the Netherlands, but look at what is happening in his own country. It is good that we condemn this but let's freeze the accession talks with Turkey now. To negotiate with someone like this is unacceptable," said the former Belgian Prime Minister.
Manfred Weber, speaking on Monday, said that for Turkey full EU membership "is not foreseeable in the near future."
European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker also raised the Turkish attacks on the Netherlands saying these were "totally unacceptable" and that those responsible were moving Turkey away from the EU.
Meanwhile, Nato Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has called for the Netherlands and Turkey to "show mutual respect, to be calm and to have a measured approach, to contribute to de-escalate the tensions."
This comes after Dutch authorities at the weekend prevented Turkish foreign minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu from landing in Rotterdam to speak at a rally. In a joint statement, European enlargement Commissioner Johannes Hahn and EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini called on Turkey to "refrain from excessive statements and actions that risk further exacerbating the situation."
German Chancellor Angela Merkel offered the Netherlands her "full support and solidarity."
The Dutch foreign ministry has issued a new travel warning to its citizens in Turkey urging them to take care due to the "diplomatic tensions" and warned them to "avoid gatherings and crowded places."
The EU is being urged to do more to help defuse growing tensions between India and Pakistan over the long running Kashmir conflict.
European Council President Donald Tusk has restated the EU's continued support for Ukraine's territorial integrity.
Parliament has appointed Greens/EFA group MEP Judith Sargentini as rapporteur for its investigation into whether Hungary is in breach of the values of the European Union.
Major problems over good governance and the rule of law obstruct Montenegro's EU membership path, writes Pavel Priymakov.
Paris agreement and the UN’s sustainable development goals are a testimony to the difference we can make when we join forces across geographical, sectoral and policy dividing lines argues Huawei...
Live animals export trade is marring the EU's reputation as a leader in animal protection, says Olga Kikou.