The European Parliament voted to propose the suspension of Turkey’s accession talks for entry into the European Union on Wednesday as relations between Turkey and the bloc have become increasingly strained over the last several years.
The European Parliament also called for Turkey to implement an immediate change of course regarding the rule of law and human rights as a prerequisite for the country’s accession to the EU.
European lawmakers passed the proposal to suspend Turkey’s accession by 480 votes in favor, 64 against and 150 abstentions in a European parliamentary session.
Today’s move came after Members of the European Parliament cited many violations of human rights and the rule of law in Turkey.
Turkey is one of the countries having been through the longest negotiation process to enter the EU.
It became an official candidate for membership in 1999 at the Helsinki summit of the European Council. Official accession talks started in 2005 but have been stalled since 2016.
EU report amounts to “toughest” criticism of Turkey ever
According to Nacho Sánchez Amor, who drafted the report on the country, Turkey must change course and “put expressions of good will into concrete actions.
“The report is probably the toughest ever in its criticism. It reflects all that has unfortunately happened in the country in the last two years, in particular in the fields of human rights and rule of law, which remain the main area of concern for the European Parliament,” he said.
The latest report adopted by the Committee of Foreign Affairs states that the Turkish government has deliberately distanced itself from European values and has led its relations with the EU to a “historic low point.”
Authoritarian actions, detention of activists and journalists in Turkey
The backsliding in the rule of law and fundamental rights — along with authoritarian actions of the Turkish government, such as the recent incarceration of journalists, academics, and human rights activists — are points of major concern for the Strasbourg-based body.
At the same time, the country’s eroding democracy and its hostile foreign policy, especially toward Greece and Cyprus, question the commitment of the Turkish government to establish close relations with the EU.
It’s not the first time that the EU has scrapped accession talks due to the Turkish government’s approach to basic principles, such as the rule of law and fundamental human rights.
Turkey rejects report as biased
The Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs has condemned the vote and characterized the report as “one-sided, biased and by no means objective.”
According to the statement issued on Wednesday, the Turkish government rejects the report, claiming that allegations regarding the rule of law, human rights, democracy and the country’s governmental system as false.
Officials from the country claim that the EU views Turkey’s “effective, humanitarian and solution-oriented foreign policy as a threat.”
At the same time, the Turkish Ministry addressed the “unfair and biased” Greek and Greek-Cypriot arguments regarding “Cyprus, the Aegean and the Eastern Mediterranean, which support narratives similar to the ones expressed by Armenians after 1915.
“EU membership is a strategic goal for Turkey and we will continue our efforts in line with this objective,” the Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
The statement expressed Turkey’s discontent about the EU’s stance by arguing that Turkey “expects the EP to carry out constructive efforts about how the relations can be improved with Turkey and how it can contribute to Turkey’s integration rather than being a platform for baseless allegations and blind accusations.”