BRUSSELS?The European Parliament voted overwhelmingly to temporarily freeze talks on Turkey's bid to join the European Union on Thursday, citing deteriorating human rights and democratic standards under President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's rule.
The vote, which was nonbinding, underscores a deep slide in relations between the EU and Turkey and will further drain energy from accession talks that have already dragged on with limited progress for more than a decade.
Mr. Erdogan had already dismissed the importance of the parliament's vote, saying on Wednesday it had "no value" and accusing European governments of double standards given what he said were rights abuses and democratic shortcomings within the bloc.
Some senior EU officials have said theydon't favor cutting off the talks although they have also been clear that fresh moves in Turkey to undercut the rule-of-law or to readopt the death penalty could spell the end of negotiations.
EU lawmakers voted overwhelmingly in favor of the resolution which called for the freeze in talks in response to the "disproportionate repressive measures" that lawmakers said Turkish authorities have taken since July's failed military coup.
In recent months, some senior European officials have warned it would be a diplomatic blunder to end the accession talks, saying it would cause a needless fresh crisis between Brussels and Ankara and blunt pressures for reform within Turkey.
However, others believe that ending the talks could allow the EU and Turkey to refocus ties on areas of real mutual interest and end the constant back-and-forth over Turkey's record in moving closer to EU rules and standards.
While only one EU member state, Austria, has formally proposed that the membership talks should be suspended, in recent weeks there has been growing frustration with Mr. Erdogan in Brussels, Berlin and other capitals and an acknowledgment that membership negotiations were headed nowhere.
Many EU countries have, from the start of talks in 2005, been deeply skeptical about Turkey joining the bloc. However, membership for Turkey was once pushed strongly by the likes of the U.K. and the U.S.
In recent months, Mr. Erdogan and Turkish officials have suggested they could walk away from the discussions. Ankara has worked to improve ties with Russia and Middle Eastern neighbors in that time.
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(END) Dow Jones Newswires
November 24, 2016 08:05 ET (13:05 GMT)
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