Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leader Devlet Bahçeli has followed President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and other senior government officials in slamming European Parliament President Martin Schulz over his suggestion of economic sanctions against Turkey, declaring his party’s support for a Brexit-like referendum on the negotiation process of Turkey’s EU membership. “We will certainly not buckle under the EU’s systematic intimidations. The people have the word, any decision it will give if asked will be the final decision, and it’s binding for everyone,” Bahçeli said Nov. 15 in an address to his party group in parliament. His comments came after President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan blasted Schulz, saying Turkey might appeal to the public to decide on the future of Turkey’s EU membership. “You say ‘we will stop the accession talks.’ Well, you are already too late. Make your decision immediately. I as the president have said we will be patient until the end of the year. Then we will go to a public [vote]. If the final decision is to be made by the nation, let’s ask the people,” he said Nov. 14. Schulz, in an interview with Germany’s Bild on Nov. 13, said the EU “should consider what economic sanctions we can take” in response to Ankara’s post-coup crackdown, including the arrest of journalists and the pro-Kurdish People’s Democracy Party (HDP) co-leaders and lawmakers. “If Turkey brings back the death penalty, its accession negotiations will end,” Schulz said, adding that he was in favor of the continuation of the talks. The MHP leader criticized European countries and institutions for backing terrorist organizations, especially the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). “Europe’s hindering of our counter-terrorism process instead of supporting it is the clearest evidence of how our adventure of accession to the EU is deadlocked,” he said. Bahçeli was also very harsh against the ambassadors of EU countries for attending the parliamentary group meeting of the HDP on Nov. 8 in a bid to give support to the party after its lawmakers were arrested on terror links.

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The opposition Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) held its weekly parliamentary group meeting on Nov. 15 with only its spokesperson, Ayhan Bilgen, in protest against the ban on guests due to their slogans. 

“This is a shame for the parliament,” told Bilgen journalists on Nov. 15.  Last week’s meeting was criticized by Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım due to the participation of European ambassadors. Slogans were also heard in the meeting.

Meanwhile, the HDP will canvass its constituents about whether it should stay or remain in parliament following a partial pullout after its lawmakers and co-chairs were arrested at the beginning of November. The HDP has moved toward finding a road map after the recent developments, daily Cumhuriyet reported on Nov. 15. 

According to the daily, debates started to erupt inside HDP after the party on Nov. 6 decided to halt all parliamentary works following the arrests. There are two different viewpoints inside the party regarding the decision to halt all parliamentary works, the daily also said. 

A group of HDP lawmakers support the decision, whereas another group claims that the decision will further push the HDP out of politics and “that’s what the government wants.” Upon criticisms, the party will hold meetings across Turkey to find out what supporters want. The meetings will last until the beginning of 2017 and will be held via local party units.

Separately, Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats Group President Gianni Pittella tweeted a photo of a meeting held in the European Parliament with two HDP lawmakers who are currently being sought in Turkey over “terror” charges. 

The photo showed Tuğba Hezer Öztürk and Faysal Sarıyıldız, who are HDP lawmakers from the eastern province of Van and the southeastern province of Şırnak, respectively, with Pittella. Eyüp Doru, who is being sought with a red notice in Turkey over “terrorist activities,” was also seen in the meeting. 

Ten HDP lawmakers, including co-chairs Selahattin Demirtaş and Figen Yüksekdağ, were arrested in a probe launched against 14 of the party’s deputies over alleged links to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

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