Brussels (Brussels Morning) The European Parliament adopted a report on Wednesday, urging the European Commission to formally suspend accession negotiations with Turkey, unless Ankara reverses its “hostile policies”, Deutsche Welle reported.
The report, which MEPs adopted with 480 votes in favour, 64 against and 150 abstentions, condemned Turkey’s human rights record and its foreign policies. “In recent years, the [government] of Turkey has distanced itself increasingly from EU values and standards. As a result, relations have been brought to a historic low point”, it stated.
Toughest criticism yet
The MEPs urged Turkey to release jailed human rights activists and journalists, as well as “others who have been detained by the government on unsubstantiated charges”. According to MEP Nacho Sanchez Amor, the report “is probably the toughest yet in its criticism” of the prevailing situation in Turkey.
“We urge the other EU institutions to make any positive agenda they might pursue with Turkey conditional upon democratic reform”, said Sanchez Amor, a Spanish socialist who was one the large group of multi-party MEPs to sponsor the motion.
The resolution highlighted the case of Selahattin Demirtaş, a former member of the Turkish parliament for the opposition People’s Democratic Party (HDP) and a two-time presidential candidate, who has been detained for more than four years on unsubstantiated charges. Turkey repeatedly has ignored European Court of Human Rights rulings ordering his release.
Migrants as leverage
The MEPs recognised Ankara as a key partner for stability in the region, noting its role in hosting millions of refugees from Middle East and other countries. However, they insisted “that the use of migrants and refugees as a tool for political leverage and blackmail cannot be accepted”.
Turkey’s Foreign Ministry responded to the resolution by rejecting it as unobjective. “It is well known that the standstill in Turkey’s accession negotiations is not due to Turkey’s lack of will for reforms”, the Ministry said in a statement.