ISTANBUL, Turkey – The Turkish prime minister harshly rejected European Union (search) criticism Friday over a proposal to outlaw adultery and hinted the government might press forward with the ban despite warnings it could jeopardize Turkey's entry into the bloc.
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan (search) told the 25-nation EU to stay out of Turkey's internal affairs after a spokesman for the EU's executive Commission, Jean-Christophe Filori (search), expressed concern about delays in reforming the Turkish penal code and the possible reintroduction of the adultery ban.
Filori, speaking in Brussels, Belgium, said Fricating Turkey's European prospects."
A defiant Erdogan said his party "was working in consideration with Turkey's sensitivities and its own principals" — signaling the government may not back down from its proposal to outlaw adultery.
"We are Turkey, we are Turks. We will make our decision on our own," the prime minister said at a news conference, to loud applause from supporters.
"Nobody has a right to meddle in our internal affairs and the operation of our parliament," Erdogan said, adding that Turkey already had fulfilled criteria to start the talks aimed at membership in the EU.
Turkey's jittery stock market fell 4 percent after Erdogan's remarks on fears of deteriorating relations with the EU over the adultery crisis.
The proposal to criminalize adultery — one of hundreds of laws introduced to Parliament earlier in the week as part of a massive package to reform Turkey's penal code — outraged women's groups and civil liberties associations in Turkey. The opposition is against the measure.
The penal code package also includes laws against rape, pedophilia and torture, and is part of sweeping reforms designed to improve the predominantly Muslim nation's chances of joining the European Union.
Under pressure from critics at home and abroad, governing party leaders had agreed to shelve the adultery law. But the ruling party tried to reintroduce it Thursday with revised wording, then completely withdrew the reform package — possibly to reinsert the law.
The retraction — seen by critics as an attempt to give the government more time to ponder whether it wants to include the adultery proposal — raised doubts that the key reform package would be passed in time for an October EU report that will recommend whether Turkey should start membership talks.