The European Commission is urging Turkey to return to an international treaty aimed at combatting violence against women after Ankara pulled out of the pact.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Saturday issued a decree annulling his country’s ratification of the Istanbul Convention, a Council of Europe accord named for the city where it was forged. The decision triggered protests in several Turkish cities.

On Sunday, Commission President Ursula von der Leyen threw her support behind the treaty, calling on all signatories to ratify the treaty and adding: “Women deserve a strong legal framework to protect them.”

Late on Saturday, the EU’s foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said the bloc “cannot but regret deeply and express incomprehension” over Ankara’s move. “We urge Turkey to reverse its decision,” he wrote.

Erdoğan gave no reason for his decision, but conservatives in Turkey have argued the convention undermines traditional family structures. Similar debates are playing out in Poland, and several European signatories — including Hungary and the United Kingdom — have yet to ratify the treaty.

National European leaders also criticized the decision.

Heiko Maas, Germany’s foreign minister, said that Turkey’s departure from the Convention was a “step backward and a wrong signal to Europe.”

“No tradition justifies questioning the protection of women from violence,” he wrote on Twitter late Saturday.

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