Turkey's EU membership bid suspended following European parliament vote

Turkey's EU membership bid suspended following European parliament vote
The EU parliament has voted to suspend Turkey's application to join the European bloc.
2 min read
14 March, 2019
Turkey is seeking to join the EU [Getty]

The European parliament on Wednesday voted to formally suspend Turkey's EU membership application, citing human rights abuses and the stifling environment for press as factors for their decision.

European lawmakers voted 370 to 109 in favour of passing the resolution, which although non-binding but has still sparked anger in Ankara.

"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 body said in a statement on Wednesday.

Kati Piri, EU rapporteur on Turkey, said that the vote came after Ankara failed to act on EU concerns regarding its human rights record.

"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 said, according to Deutsche Welle.

Negotiations on Turkey's accession into the EU began in 2004, but have been stalled due to numerous issues, such as the division of Cyprus.

Turkey has launched a crackdown on suspected sympathisers of exiled cleric Fethullah Gulen, following a coup attempt against President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's government in 2016.

Thousands have been detained in the purge of government, military and public sector positions, while there has also been a clampdown on Kurdish-linked politicians, media staff and activists.

"[The parliament’s] 'biased' Turkey report will go down in history as an example of Europe's alienation from its own values," Turkey's Anadolu news agency reported, citing Justice Minister Abdulhamit Gul. 

Turkey's foreign ministry described the vote as "one-sided" and "baseless", stating that "European Union membership remains our strategic goal".