As the diplomatic relationship between Turkey and its fellow NATO members has grown more strained, European leaders like Mario Draghi (the prime minister of Italy) have denounced Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan as a "dictator".
And after a prolonged spat with Europe over Erdogan's increasingly authoritarian demeanor, the European Parliament voted on Wednesday to formally urge the EU Commission to formally suspend accession talks for Turkey to join the EU, a process that has been ongoing for years. MEPs demanded that Turkey's membership talks be suspended until Turkey agrees to abandon its "hostile" 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," Members of the European Parliament said in a statement.
MEPs slammed Turkey's human rights record and its foreign policies in the report adopted by 480 votes in favor, 64 against and 150 abstentions.
"This report is probably the toughest yet in its criticism of the situation in Turkey," said MEP Nacho Sanchez Amor. "We urge the other EU institutions to make any positive agenda they might pursue with Turkey conditional upon democratic reform," he added.
MEPs urged Turkey to release jailed human rights activists, journalists and "others who have been detained by the government on unsubstantiated charges."
MEPs also demanded that Turkey recognize the Armenian genocide, something that Washington under President Biden has recently recognized in a statement that infuriated millions of Turks.
The Turkish Foreign Ministry released a statement rejecting the European Parliament's vote and its criticisms, saying the institution was "by no means objective."
“EU membership is a strategic goal for Turkey and we will continue our efforts in line with this objective,” the Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
"It is well known... that the standstill in Turkey's accession negotiations is not due to Turkey's lack of will for reforms," the Turkish statement read. "As a candidate country, Turkey expects the [European Parliament] to carry out constructive efforts about how the relations can be improved with Turkey and how it can contribute to Turkey's EU integration process, rather than being a platform for baseless allegations and blind accusations against Turkey."
Turkey's talks to join the EU started in 2005. But as recently as last year, the EU said that accession talks had "effectively come to a standstill" due to Ankara's strained relations with Cyprus and human rights concerns.