EP calls for suspension of Turkey's EU accession process

In response Ankara has rejected the vote as insignificant

Turkey rapporteur in the EP Kati Piri

A large majority in the European Parliament recommended on Wednesday in a non-binding resolution that the EU formally freezes Turkey's accession process. Citing severe political and democratic backsliding under President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, mainly collapse of the rule of law, a turn towards authoritarianism and the crackdown on dissidents, lawmakers passed the symbolic resolution with 370 votes in favour, 109 against with 143 abstentions.

"The European Parliament remains seriously concerned about  Turkey's poor track record in upholding human rights, the rule of law, media freedom and the fight against corruption, as well as its all-powerful presidential system," the Strasbourg-based body said in a statement late Wednesday.

Rapporteur Kati Piri, a Hungarian-born Dutch Social Democrat MEP then added that repeated European calls for Ankara to respect fundamental rights have "fallen on deaf ears."

"On top of the severe human rights violations, the dismantling of the rule of law and the fact that Turkey holds the world record for the number of journalists in jail, the recently amended constitution consolidates Erdogan's authoritarianism," Piri told the plenary.

In response Turkey's Foreign Ministry rejected the recommendation, which is not legally binding, stating: "It is not possible for us to attribute any value to the one-sided and non-objective approach adopted by the European Parliament."

"Turkey expects the new EU Parliament, to be formed after the elections in May, will adopt a constructive approach to the Turkey-EU relations in the upcoming period, take qualified and objective decisions and boost Turkey's EU integration process," the ministry added.

Ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) Spokesman Omer Celik also rebuked approval of the resolution.

''This disreputable decision shows that the European Parliament is under the influence of far-right ideology,'' he said.

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