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Turkey Condemns ‘Unjust’ European Decision to Put it on Watchlist | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Supporters of Turkish President Erdogan wave national flags as they wait for his arrival at the Presidential Palace in Ankara. (Reuters)

Turkey condemned on Tuesday the European rights body to put it on a monitoring watchlist over Ankara’s alleged stifling of dissent under President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

The Turkish foreign ministry said it strongly condemned the “unjust decision”, adding that Ankara was left with no choice but to reconsider its relations with the body.

“Deciding to reopen the monitoring procedure on Turkey… under the guidance of malicious circles at the PACE is a disgrace to this organ, which claims to be the cradle of democracy,” the ministry said in a statement, adding that xenophobia and Islamophobia were “spreading with violence” across Europe.

Lawmakers from the Council of Europe’s Parliamentary Assembly (PACE) on Tuesday put Turkey on a monitoring watchlist, citing concerns over what they say is the stifling of dissent and rights violations under Erdogan as he concentrates power.

The vote to open the formal procedure against Ankara passed with 113 votes in favor versus 45 against in the Council of Europe’s Parliamentary Assembly. Separate to the European Union, the CoE is a human rights body of which Turkey is a member.

That decision could have an adverse effect on the separate talks on Turkey’s EU accession.

Ties between the EU and Ankara have soured further around a referendum earlier this month in Turkey that granted Erdogan more powers. While campaigning, he has accused EU states Germany and the Netherlands of acting like Nazis.

EU lawmakers will separately debate relations with Turkey on Wednesday. The bloc’s foreign ministers will discuss the situation on Friday and EU leaders are also expected to exchange views when they meet over Brexit on Saturday.

While Austria has led calls for a formal end to Turkey’s EU accession talks, some other EU states are more cautious, fearing any further alienation of a NATO ally on which the Union also depends on keeping a lid on migration.