The European Parliament votes in favor of ceasing talks with Turkey over membership of the European bloc. David Doyle reports.
Hands up to keep Turkey out. The EU parliament voting Thursday (July 6) to suspend EU membership talks with Ankara. But that vote symbolic rather than influential. The decision lies with the European Commission or EU governments and they've ignored calls to formally suspend an accession process that is already in limbo. EU lawmakers said Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan's crackdown on his opponents means the country does not meet the European bloc's democratic criteria. Erdogan's government has been on the offensive since an attempted coup almost a year ago. 50,000 people have been jailed pending trial and 150,000, including soldiers, police officers, teachers and public servants, suspended over alleged links with terrorist groups. A constitutional referendum in April went in favour of Erdogan, and is set to hand him sweeping new powers - that too widening a rift between EU members and Ankara. Erdogan says those powers are needed to bring stability to his country, though thousands took to the streets on Thursday in a march triggered by the jailing of one of Erdogan's opponents, that has turned into a wider anti-government protest. Turkey has responded angrily to the EU Parliament's gesture. European Affairs Minister Omer Celik attacking the EU Parliament for allegedly failing to support Turkey following the coup attempt. (SOUNDBITE) (Turkish) TURKISH EUROPEAN UNION AFFAIRS MINSTER, OMER CELIK, SAYING: "We are rejecting all kinds of proposals to drop accession talks between Turkey and the EU in favour of strong cooperation in the areas of terror, immigration and other subjects." Immigration is the ace in Turkey's hand. EU leaders are keen not to undermine an agreement struck with Ankara last year. That deal effectively stopped migrants, like those pictured here being returned to Turkey, from reaching Greece. That in turn easing an immigration crisis that had threatened EU unity.