EU split on halting Turkish membership talks
EU foreign ministers will discuss halting membership talks with Turkey on Monday, after Ankara launched a new crackdown on opponents of the the government.
Although EU members have not reached a consensus over halting Turkish membership talks, the 28-members body has been alarmed by Ankara's backsliding on democratic values following a recent string of arrests.
However, some EU diplomats believe talks must continue with Turkish President Tayyip Recep Erdogan, who played a central role in a recent deal to help curb migrations to Europe.
"Suspending membership talks with Turkey is not formally on the agenda but we expect some ministers to bring this up," Reuters quoted an EU official as saying.
"It is true some deeply troubling things are happening in Turkey. But you have to ask yourself the question what exactly would we achieve by suspending the process now? How would that help? We need to keep communication channels open."
An EU report released on Wednesday accused Ankara of lurching away from key democratic values after more than 110,000 people were arrested, suspended or dismissed from their jobs over their alleged links to the failed July coup.
EU enlargement commissioner Johannes Hahn said as he unveiled the annual report on EU candidate countries that "Turkey has apparently chosen to move away from Europe".
"The ball is clearly in Turkey's court now," he added, saying Ankara had to make clear what it wanted.
Turkey slammed the report, saying it was "far from objective".
"There are sections in the report that are very far from being objective," Turkish EU Affairs Minister Omer Celik told a televised news conference in Ankara on Wednesday.
"The EU has turned into an institution that just publishes statements. Our business is not words - it's getting things done," Celik sniped.
Turkey's accession bid dates back to the 1960s, with formal accession talks opened in 2005.
President Erdogan had repeatedly expressed fury that Turkey has been kept "waiting at the door" of the EU as it watched ex-Communist new members enter far more quickly.
Agencies contributed to this report.