EU accuses Turkey of ‘backing down’ in reforms to join bloc

EU accuses Turkey of ‘backing down’ in reforms to join bloc

The European Union’s executive body said Turkey’s bid to join the bloc was “stalled” due to serious democratic flaws in its annual report, which was criticized by the Turkish Foreign Ministry as making “baseless claims”.
The European Commission said in the report released on Tuesday that the government of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan oversaw a continued erosion of democracy and the rule of law and ignored EU recommendations last year.

The report also suggested for the first time that Ankara was no longer serious about implementing EU-backed reforms, even though Erdogan re-committed in April to the goal of full membership in the EU. ‘EU as the two sides tried to improve their relations.

“The EU’s serious concerns about the continued deterioration of democracy, the rule of law, fundamental rights and the independence of the judiciary have not been taken into account. There has been a further setback in many areas, ”said the Commission.

“Under the current circumstances, Turkey’s accession negotiations are effectively at a standstill,” he said.

Turkey’s Foreign Ministry said the report showed a “double standards approach” on the part of the EU and rejected “unfair criticisms and baseless claims”. He accused the bloc of not keeping its promises to Turkey and failing to fulfill its responsibilities.

“Turkey maintains on the strongest terms its strategic choice of full membership of the EU,” the ministry said in a statement.

“It would be in everyone’s interest for the EU, taking into account our general common interests, to consider Turkey as a candidate country which negotiates, and not as a partner with which to have daily concession relations.

Since Erdogan’s uncompromising response to an attempted coup in July 2016, the paths of the EU and Turkey have diverged sharply [File: Reuters]

NATO ally, Turkey has been negotiating its accession to the EU since 2005 after economic and political reforms that have made it an emerging market economy and an important trading partner.

But since Erdogan’s uncompromising response to a coup attempt in July 2016, the paths of the EU and Turkey have diverged sharply, despite better diplomatic relations since the start of 2021.

A purge of opponents launched in mid-2016 continues, according to the report, noting “large-scale restrictions on the activities of journalists, writers, lawyers, academics, human rights defenders and critical voices.”

Ankara has said its security measures are necessary given the seriousness of the threats facing Turkey, which shares land borders with Iraq and Syria.

Erdogan’s increase in presidential powers from 2017, which the EU says lacks sufficient democratic controls, and his more forceful foreign policy, have also strained relations.

In its 2021 report, the Commission questioned Turkey’s “ability to meet the obligations of membership” and said Ankara has pursued reforms in areas ranging from economy to statehood. right “on a rather ad hoc basis”.

It is up to the 27 EU Member States, not the Commission, to decide whether Turkey’s candidacy for the EU should be formally withdrawn. Many believe they should push Turkey into a different and looser relationship based on deeper trade ties.


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