EU says Turkey distancing itself from bloc, criticizes human rights record

The European Union said on Wednesday that Turkey continues to distance itself from the bloc and its values and says sees no reason to unblock the country’s EU membership talks. (Reuters/File Photo)
Updated 29 May 2019

EU says Turkey distancing itself from bloc, criticizes human rights record

  • Turkey has been involved in membership talks since October 2005 but progress has been extremely slow
  • The EU wants to see a return to the reforms of Erdogan’s first years in power and law reforms

BRUSSELS: The European Union said on Wednesday that Turkey continues to distance itself from the bloc and its values and says sees no reason to unblock the country’s EU membership talks.
In a progress report on Turkey’s membership prospects released Wednesday, the EU’s executive commission criticizes “serious backsliding in the areas of the rule of law and fundamental rights.”
The EU agreed last year that no new chapters in Turkey’s accession talks should be opened or closed and the report notes that “the underlying facts leading to this assessment still hold.”
Turkey has been involved in membership talks since October 2005 but progress has been extremely slow.
The topics of concern are all areas considered central for membership by the European Union, which prides itself on being a democratic club of market economies that respect the rule of law.
“Turkey has continued to move further away from the European Union,” the Commission said in its annual report on Ankara’s progress toward membership, a path formally undertaken in 2005.
“Negotiations have ... effectively come to a standstill,” the Commission said of Turkey, a member of the US-led NATO alliance which shares a border with Iraq and Syria.
Some EU countries oppose the large, relatively poor and mainly Muslim country joining. Germany, notably, would prefer an alternate kind of “privileged partnership” for Turkey.
But the office of the Turkish Foreign Ministry hit back at the criticisms from the EU, saying the findings in the enlargement report reflect the EU’s own “existential crisis.”
Turkey’s deputy foreign minister said the report does not “accurately assess the current situation” in the country and that Turkey would be “carefully noting the constructive criticism” in the report.
He said he also expected Turkey’s European allies to support it in its battle against security threats.
The EU wants to see a return to the reforms of Erdogan’s first years in power as prime minister from 2003 that made it an important emerging economy.
But the Commission said in its report that even with the lifting of a state of emergency in 2018 following a failed coup in July 2016, many of its “repressive elements” became law.

(With agencies)


Turkey says ready to send troops to back Libya unity govt

Updated 14 min 26 sec ago

Turkey says ready to send troops to back Libya unity govt

ANKARA: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Tuesday he was ready to send troops to Libya if requested by the internationally recognised government in Tripoli.
"On the issue of sending soldiers... If Libya makes such a request from us, we can send our personnel there, especially after striking the military security agreement," he said in a televised appearance.
Turkey signed a military agreement last month with Libya's Government of National Accord, led by Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj.
It came after media reports that Russia had sent 200 mercenaries to support Libya's military strongman Khalifa Haftar, who is seeking to unseat the Tripoli-based government.
Russia has denied the reports, but Erdogan said: "There is a security company from Russia (in Libya) called Wagner. This company sent its security staff there."
The Wagner Group is a shadowy private security firm and thousands of its security contractors are believed to be in foreign conflicts from Syria to Ukraine to the Central African Republic.
At the same time as the military deal, Turkey also signed a controversial maritime jurisdiction agreement with Sarraj, giving sweeping rights for Turkey to explore for oil in the Mediterranean.
"With the new line drawn (by the maritime agreement), we will take steps to protect the interests of Libya, Turkey and the TRNC (Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus). This is in line with international law," he said.
The deal has been staunchly opposed by Greece, Cyprus and their European partners which says it violates the islands' maritime rights.