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European Parliament votes to suspend accession talks with Turkey

Muslim Times(Web Desk) – The European Parliament has voted to suspend negotiations between European governments and Turkey on Ankara’s accession to the European Union (EU), citing a series of concerns, including alleged human rights violations.

The European Parliament, the legislative branch of the EU, on Wednesday voted 370 to 109 in favor of a resolution that recommends suspending accession talks with Turkey. Another 143 members abstained.

Although the vote is non-binding, it is a strong measure of opposition to Ankara’s accession to the EU inside Europe.

“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 European Parliament said in a statement on the same day, enumerating its concerns.

Kati Piri, a Dutch lawmaker and the EU rapporteur on Turkey, accused Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of being involved in a “witchhunt against his critics.” She said European calls for Turkey to respect human rights and fundamental freedoms had “fallen on deaf ears.”

The Turkish government responded with effective disdain.

“It is not possible for us to attribute any value to the one-sided and non-objective approach adopted by the European Parliament,” the Turkish Foreign Ministry said, according to the Daily Sabah.

A spokesman for Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party called the decision “disreputable.”

“This disreputable decision shows that the European Parliament is under the influence of far-right ideology,” said Omer Celik.

He called Piri, the EU rapporteur, “racist.”

Some 15 years since Turkey launched efforts to join the EU, it is still struggling to secure accession. The 28-member bloc has long maintained that Ankara is not doing enough to uphold European standards required for accession.

That drawn-out process seems to have frustrated Turkey. In October 2018, President Erdogan said the EU was wasting Ankara’s time.

“If the European Union continues wasting Turkey’s time in its accession to the union, then the country could hold a referendum over its membership bid. It is better to see this process faster so that Turkey can determine its way,” the Turkish president said back then.

Relations between Turkey and the EU have been especially strained following the July 2016 coup attempt against Erdogan, which the Ankara government claims to have been masterminded by US-based opposition cleric Fethullah Gulen.

The EU has often criticized the crackdown in the wake of the botched putsch, in which over 150,000 people have been detained or dismissed over their alleged backing for the putsch. Ankara, in return, has accused Brussels of being unsupportive of the alleged threats that it faces.

As part of a deal between Turkey and the EU that was struck in March 2016, Turkey has agreed to take back rejected asylum seekers attempting to enter Europe via its territory in return for, among other things, accelerated accession talks. While Turkey has remained committed to that deal — something the European Parliament acknowledged in its Wednesday resolution — the accession talks seem effectively stalled.

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