Turkey’s attempts to join the European Union have suffered another setback with yesterday’s vote by the European Parliament to suspend its application, citing “human rights” abuses and “violations of the rule of law.”
EU Parliamentarians passed the resolution by 370 votes to 109, with 143 abstentions. The resolution is non-binding, but it is unlikely that the European Commission will ignore the vote.
An official statement from the EU said that the 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.”
They said that they welcomed “Turkey’s decision, last year, to lift the state of emergency introduced after the failed coup attempt in 2016,” but that they “regret that many of the powers granted to the President and executive following the coup attempt remain in place, and continue to limit freedom and basic human rights in the country.”
Members of the Parliament expressed “great concern about the shrinking space for civil society in the country, as a large number of activists, journalists and human rights defenders are currently in jail.”
The statement also revealed that Turkey has still not upgraded its passport and visa system in line with the “72 benchmarks for EU visa liberalisation,” and that this remained an impediment to moving forward with that country’s application for EU membership as well.
Negotiations on Turkey’s EU accession started in 2005.
In a statement, the Turkish Foreign Ministry rejected the European Parliament vote as “one-sided” and “baseless.”
“European Union membership remains our strategic goal,” the Foreign Ministry said, calling on the bloc to hold constructive talks and modernize the custom union.