Fistfight breaks out in Turkish parliament, delaying key votes

A late night brawl in the Turkish parliament between opposition members and lawmakers from the ruling party about the conflict in the mostly Kurdish south-east has forced a delay on legislation crucial to an EU migration deal.

The fistfights and shoving matches late Wednesday led the speaker of parliament to adjourn the chamber until Monday.

Turkey has until May 4 to pass laws and sign treaties to meet 72 criteria related to a migration deal with the European Union. If they are all implemented, the EU will allow Turkish citizens to have visa-free access to Europe.

Turkey, a key gateway country for migrants, and the European Union signed a deal on March 18 meant to help cut the rate of migration to the bloc. In recent months, many migrants seeking to reach Europe have first traveled to Turkey before then attempting to move on to Europe.

In return for Turkey trying to control the flow, Europe is offering Turkey visa-free access and accelerated negotiations to join the union, plus more than 6 billion dollars in aid for Syrian refugees. Turkey hosts about 2.2 million Syrians, according to the UN.

The fighting in the legislature broke out late on Wednesday, according to broadcaster NTV, after Ferhat Encu, a member of the pro-Kurdish People's Democratic Party (HDP), slammed the government for allegedly killing civilians in the south-east, using the term "massacre."

Punches were then thrown between Encu, who hails from the embattled Sirnak region of the country, and members of the ruling Justice and Development Paty (AKP), who rejected the accusations.

The AKP has a majority in parliament. None of the four parties in the house oppose Turkey getting visa-free access, though there is opposition in Europe to the proposal.

Last update: Fri, 24/06/2016 - 08:49

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