ANKARA, April 28 – Brawls between lawmakers from Turkey’s ruling AK Party and the pro-Kurdish opposition have delayed efforts to pass legislation on a migration deal with the European Union and parliament has been adjourned until Monday.
Deputies threw punches, pushed and tried to restrain each other in the assembly late on Wednesday in a row over military operations targeting Kurdish militants in Turkey’s largely Kurdish southeast.
The acting speaker announced at the end of Wednesday’s session that, following these scuffles, the parliament would now not meet again in full session until Monday.
Lawmakers had been expected to work on Friday and Saturday on legislation needed for Turks to secure visa-free travel to Europe, a key part of Ankara’s deal with the European Union on stopping uncontrolled migration to Europe.
Brussels aims to propose waiving visas for Turks on May 4 but that is strongly opposed by some EU member states. The EU has said Turkey fully meets fewer than half of the 72 criteria and that its conditions will not be softened.
The fierce exchanges erupted after MP Ferhat Encu from the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) referred to the killing of civilians in military operations against Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) militants in the southeast.
Thousands of militants and hundreds of security force members and civilians have been killed since the PKK resumed its insurgency last summer after a 2-1/2-year ceasefire, shattering a peace process.