European Parliament calls for suspension of Turkey's EU accession process
The European Parliament called to formally suspend Turkey's European Union accession process in a vote Wednesday, while admitting to its reliance on Ankara to uphold a 2016 migration deal stemming arrivals to the bloc from Middle Eastern countries such as Syria.
A total of 370 lawmakers voted in favor, 109 against, and 143 abstained. The resolution is not legally binding.
The resolution, which blasts the Turkish government, notes "Turkey's important role in responding to the migration crisis" and its "great hospitality" in sheltering more than 3.5 million Syrian refugees.
Turkey's Foreign Ministry rejected the recommendation, stating: "It is not possible for us to attribute any value to the one-sided and non-objective approach adopted by the European Parliament," adding that the decision does not "make any sense."
Ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) Spokesman Ömer Çelik rebuked approval of the resolution. ''This disreputable decision shows that the European Parliament is under the influence of far-right ideology,'' he said.
Turkish officials had previously slammed the draft report for demonstrating the EU's biased and prejudiced attitude toward Turkey, adding that Ankara would continue to push for its amendment.
"The call in the draft report — which is not legally binding and bears only the status of an advisory decision — to officially suspend our country's accession negotiations with the EU is absolutely unacceptable," Foreign Ministry spokesman Hami Aksoy said.
"We expect the necessary changes to be made for a more realistic, unbiased and encouraging final report which will be accepted in March at the European Parliament's general assembly," Aksoy said, stressing that Ankara would only take such a document into account.
Romanian Ambassador to Turkey Gabriel Sopanda said Wednesday that Romania "openly and strongly" supports Turkey's accession process to the EU.
Sopanda said the vote of Turkey's accession process follows the "political division" within Europe.
"It's not a vote that will be compulsory to be followed by the member states or the institutions," he added.
At the beginning of this year, Romania took over the term presidency of the Council of the European Union.
In October, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said he would consider putting Turkey's long-stalled bid to join the European Union to a referendum, signaling exasperation with a process he says has been waylaid by prejudice against Muslims.
EU membership remains a top strategic goal for Turkey even though the accession talks, formally launched in 2004, have been stalled for years due to the objections of the Greek Cypriot administration on the divided island of Cyprus as well as opposition from Germany and France.