In a move that was expected, the European Parliament on Wednesday approved a report asking for the suspension of EU accession talks with Turkey, Reuters reported.
Forging a common European Parliament position on Turkey’s long-stalled EU bid, lawmakers voted 370 in favor and 109 against, with 143 abstentions, for an official freeze of the membership process, which would jeopardize some EU funding.
EU governments have the final say in any suspension.
“Sitting in a cell for 17 months without knowing what you are being accused of, that is reality in today’s Turkey,” Kati Piri, a Dutch center-left EU lawmaker who sponsored the non-binding resolution, told the plenary in Strasbourg.
She accused Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan of a “witch hunt against his critics,” referring to what the EU says is a crackdown on dissidents, the collapse of an independent judiciary and a turn toward authoritarianism that are incompatible with the bloc’s values of democracy and freedom of speech.
Ankara dismissed the vote as meaningless. Turkish ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) spokesman Ömer Çelik called it “worthless, invalid and disreputable.”
The Turkish Foreign Ministry said it expected the EP to take objective decisions and to adapt a constructive stance to contribute to Turkey’s EU accession process.
The parliament adopted its stance two days before EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini is set to meet with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu in Brussels to discuss bilateral relations.
Today, EU officials say limits on press freedom, mass jailing and shrinking civil rights make it almost impossible at the present time for Turkey to meet EU accession criteria.
Lawmakers acknowledged that the bloc relies on Turkey as a NATO ally on Europe’s southern flank, while an EU deal with Ankara has halted the influx of Syrian refugees into the bloc.