The European Parliament has voted in favor of formally suspending EU accession talks with Turkey, citing severe political and democratic backsliding under President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Lawmakers passed the symbolic nonbinding resolution with 370 votes in favor, 109 against, and 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.
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EU governments would have to vote by majority to end Turkey's EU accession bid, which would cut some funding programs.
Kati Piri, a socialist Dutch lawmaker and EU rapporteur on Turkey, said 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.
Turkey rejects vote
Turkey's 15-year EU accession bid has long been stalled, even before Ankara's severe crackdown on dissent in the wake of the failed coup attempt in 2016.
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 customs union.
During Wednesday's vote, European lawmakers recognized Turkey's role in hosting more than 3.5 million Syrian refugees. They called for European funds to be diverted from the Turkish government to support civil society groups.
cw/cmk (dpa, Reuters)