April 25, 2017 / 11:30 AM / 6 months ago

European rights body puts Turkey on notice over crackdown, Erdogan powers

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan arrives at a news conference in Istanbul, Turkey, April 16, 2017. REUTERS/Murad Sezer/Files

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Lawmakers from a leading European rights body on Tuesday put Turkey on a monitoring watchlist, citing concerns over what they say is the stifling of dissent and rights violations under President Tayyip Erdogan as he concentrates power.

The vote to open the formal procedure against Ankara passed with 113 votes in favour 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. They made very little progress over the past decade and more dark clouds have gathered following a security crackdown Erdogan oversaw since a failed military coup in Turkey last July.

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 European Union also depends on keeping a lid on migration.

Turkey has had the largest number of cases logged in the European Court of Human Rights of all CoE members, with a clear majority of rulings finding violations.

Reporting by Gabriela Baczynska, editing by Robin Emmott

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