The European Union has accused Turkey of “backsliding” on democracy and urged Ankara to conduct "a structured and more frequent political dialogue on key thematic issues."
Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) approved (by a vote of 375 to 133, with 87 abstentions) the annual progress report on Turkey Thursday, in which it criticized the country’s record on human rights and media freedom in 2015 and urged the country to show progress on rule of law and fundamental values.
MEPs “urge Turkey to act against intimidation of journalists in all its forms, condemn its violent and illegal takeover of several newspapers ...and highlight its serious backsliding on freedom of speech," the parliament said.
EU - Turkey cooperation on migration should be uncoupled from the EU accession process, MEPs said, but noted that Turkey remains a "key strategic partner for the EU.”
Ankara immediately rejected the report. Speaking in Vienna, Turkey's EU Affairs Minister Volkan Bozkir said that his government considered the report "null and void" and would return it to the European Parliament.
Bozkir said that Ankara was particularly outraged by a reference in the report to the mass killings of Armenians in Ottoman Turkey in 1915 as "genocide.”
Turkey accepts that hundreds of thousands of Armenians were killed at that time but denies they constituted a campaign of genocide.