The European parliament called for the suspension Turkey’s negotiations for membership in the EU.
MEPs, in a symbolic rebuke of Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan, voted 370 in favour and 109 against, with 143 abstention, of a non-binding resolution for an official freeze of the membership process, which would jeopardise some EU funding.
EU governments have the final say in any suspension.
The parliament adopted its stance ahead of a meeting this week between EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini and Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu in Brussels to discuss bilateral relations.
Kati Piri, a Dutch centre-left EU lawmaker who sponsored the non-binding resolution, told the plenary in Strasbourg accused Erdogan of a witch-hunt against his critics, referring to what the EU says is a crackdown on dissidents, the collapse of an independent judiciary and a turn towards authoritarianism that are incompatible with the bloc’s values of democracy and freedom of speech.
Ankara dismissed the vote as meaningless. Turkish ruling AK Party spokesman Omer Celik called it “worthless, invalid and disreputable”.
The negotiations with Turkey, a NATO ally, were launched in 2005 but EU officials say limits on press freedoms, mass jailing and shrinking civil rights make it almost impossible at the present time for Turkey to meet EU joining criteria.