Many policymakers and analysts criticized the European Parliament’s expected move, saying it would push Turkey to harden its position on human rights and the death penalty.
ISTANBUL — The European Parliament is likely to vote Thursday to suspend negotiations to bring Turkey into the European Union (EU), infuriating the Turkish government and possibly hastening the end of a long and troubled process.
While the vote is advisory rather than binding, the government of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is smarting from European criticism of its crackdown on opponents and on the news media after a failed coup attempt in July. So it has suggested it might pull out of the process if there were no progress by the end of 2016.
Erdogan has also said he would approve a restoration of the death penalty, which would likely end any talk of Turkey joining the bloc, since a ban on capital punishment is a condition of membership.
Many policymakers and analysts criticized the European Parliament’s expected move, saying it would push Turkey to harden its position on human rights and the death penalty, while endangering cooperation on limiting refugee flows to Europe.
“It would be a strategic stupidity of the first order for the EU to unilaterally abandon its relationship with Turkey,” Carl Bildt, a former Swedish prime minister, said in a Twitter post this week.
Nonetheless, at a debate in the European Parliament in Strasbourg on Tuesday night, it was clear lawmakers from most of the main parties seemed likely to vote to suspend accession talks.
Erdogan did not wait for the vote to react. “The EU Parliament resorting to such a vote means it takes terror organizations under its wings, it takes sides with them,” he said Wednesday in Istanbul.
A few days ago, the Turkish president, according to the Hurriyet newspaper, threatened to join the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, a body that includes China and Russia, in place of seeking EU membership. “The EU has been delaying us for 53 years. How can such a thing happen?” the paper quoted Erdogan as saying. Turkey first expressed interest in joining the union in the 1960s, although formal accession talks began in 2005.
Sinan Ulgen, a Turkish scholar at Carnegie Europe, a foreign-policy think tank in Brussels, said: “The EU finds itself devoid of a flexible response toward Turkey and is now contemplating the nuclear option, suspension of negotiations.” That, he said, could threaten the refugee deal that Europe has with Turkey.
That deal, reached in March, provides for the union and member states to pay Turkey 3 billion euros, or about $3.2 billion, for refugee assistance in 2016 and 2017. In exchange, Turkey agreed to help stop the flow of refugees across its border and to take back migrants rejected for asylum in Europe.
Turkey hosts an estimated 2.7 million refugees or other migrants from Afghanistan, Syria and other countries.