The Latest: EC chief opposes ending Turkey membership talks


ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — The Latest on the aftermath of the failed coup attempt in Turkey (all times local):

5:50 p.m.

The head of the European Union’s executive Commission has spoken out against ending membership talks with Turkey — a possibility raised by Austria’s chancellor.

Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker told Germany’s ARD television in comments broadcast Thursday that “Turkey, in the state it is today, cannot become a member of the European Union.”

He says that would be even more the case if Turkey reintroduces the death penalty, as some have suggested since last month’s failed military coup.

But Juncker added: “I don’t see that it would be helpful now if we were to indicate unilaterally to Turkey that the negotiations are over.” He says all EU member countries would have to agree to end talks, and he doesn’t believe that they are ready to do so.

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4:00 p.m.

Turkey’s state-run news agency says a court has issued a formal warrant for the arrest of U.S.-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen.

Anadolu Agency says the Istanbul-based court issued the warrant Thursday, accusing Gulen of “ordering the July 15 coup attempt.”

The Turkish government says Gulen, who lives in self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania, masterminded the failed coup attempt by renegade officers in Turkey’s military and wants him extradited to Turkey.

The country has designated his movement as a terror organization.

Gulen has denied any involvement in the coup attempt.

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2:20 p.m.

A senior ruling party official says nations need to take action against schools or other establishments linked to a movement led by U.S.-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, whom Turkey accuses of instigating the failed July 15 military coup.

Mehdi Eker, a deputy chairman of Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party, said Thursday that Gulen’s movement has hundreds of schools, charities or other establishments in more than 100 countries and warned those countries too could face “security risks” from the group in the future.

Eker told a group of journalists: “If we had seen that these schools were not innocent educational nests but nurseries raising members for a terror organization, we would not have lived through the (attempted coup).”

“It is our responsibility to warn countries that have (Gulen-linked) schools,” Eker said. “In Africa, we know that they work as nurseries (for terror) and we want to warn them.”

Gulen, who lives in self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania, has denied any involvement in the coup.

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1:30 p.m.

Austria’s chancellor says there are signs that Turkey is heading toward a dictatorship and questions the sense of continuing negotiations with it over EU membership.

Christian Kern says it may be time to push the “reset button” on the talks, adding he wants “critical discussions” of the topic at next month’s EU summit.

Kern made the comments in a late evening newscast Wednesday.

He said “there is no realistic perspective for membership” for Turkey. Instead, the Austrian leader calls for a “new approach” based on the need for close economic ties between the EU and Ankara.

He speaks of “signs that are unmistakable” that Turkey is moving toward a dictatorship under President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

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1:25 p.m.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is vowing to go after businesses linked to a US-based Muslim cleric he accuses of having been behind Turkey’s failed July 15 coup.

The Turkish government characterizes the movement of Fethullah Gulen, who lives in self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania, as a terrorist organization.

Speaking Thursday to the heads of chambers of commerce in Ankara, Erdogan said the government was “determined to totally cut off all business links of this organization, which has blood on its hands.”

He added that “every cent” that goes to the Gulen movement “is a bullet placed in a barrel to be fired against this nation. In the same way that we do not pardon those who fire the bullet, we will not forgive those who financed the bullet.”

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