Turkey strongly condemned the "unjust decision" of a European rights body to put it on a monitoring watchlist, a foreign ministry statement said on Tuesday, adding that Ankara was left with no choice but to reconsider its relations with the body.
Lawmakers from the Council of Europe's (CoE) Parliamentary Assembly (PACE), a leading European rights body, took the decision citing concerns over what they say is the stifling of dissent and rights violations in the country.
"Deciding to re-open 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 Turkish ministry's statement said. "Turkey is standing along with the most vulnerable and fighting almost alone against xenophobia and Islamophobia spreading with violence in today’s Europe."
The PACE vote held in Strasbourg, France to open the formal procedure against Ankara passed with 113 votes in favour versus 45 against in the Assembly.
TRT World's Kevin Ozebek has more details on the controversial vote.
Separate to the European Union (or EU), the CoE is a human rights body of which Turkey is a member.
Turkey's representative in CoE Emine Nur Gunay told TRT World that the CoE vote is "angled and biased". She said a founder member has been downgraded from post-monitoring to monitoring level "for the first time" in the Council's history.
— PACE (@PACE_News) April 25, 2017
Souring Turkey-EU ties
CoE's 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 since a failed military coup in Turkey last July.
Ties between the EU and Ankara soured further around Turkey's referendum earlier this month that shift the country to a presidential system. After Turkish ministers were prevented from holding rallies in Germany and the Netherlands, Turkey accused the two EU states 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 bloc also depends on keeping a lid on migration.