European Parliament votes to cut €70 mln in aid to Turkey

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The European Parliament has voted to cut financial support to Turkey by €70 million ($80.8 million) due to concerns over human rights and the rule of law in the country.

The motion was passed in the European Union’s legislature on Tuesday, with 544 members of parliament voting in favor, while 28 were against and 74 abstained.

“The so-called pre-accession funds are intended to help Turkey as it works toward becoming a member of the bloc, but were cut as conditions to improve the rule of law were not met,” a statement from the European Parliament said.

The aid was to be paid out on condition that Turkey make improvements with regards to the rule of law, democracy, human rights and press freedom.

The European Commission said in April that the country “has been significantly moving away from the European Union’’ in these areas.

“The money will go back into the European Neighborhood Instrument, a fund for political, economic and social reforms in states outside the EU,’’ the parliament’s statement said.

Payments pledged to Turkey in order to assist the country in hosting millions of Syrian refugees are not affected by Tuesday’s decision.

Three million euros had already been paid out in June, when the EU earmarked another €3 million in funds.

Turkey has been receiving widespread criticism for perpetrating gross human rights violations and silencing free speech particularly after a failed coup attempt in the country on July 15, 2016.

Under the pretext of an anti-coup fight, more than 50,000 people from all walks of life including prominent journalists have been jailed in Turkey while more than 150,000 have been removed from state jobs.

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