aljazeera.com
News|European Union
EU accuses Turkey of ‘backsliding’ on reforms to join bloc
Ankara blasts the European Commission report as based on ‘unfair criticisms and baseless claims’.
The Commission says Turkey's accession negotiations have effectively come to a 'standstill' [File: Yves Herman/Reuters]
19 Oct 2021
The European Union’s executive body has said that Turkey’s bid to join the bloc had “come to a standstill” amid serious democratic shortfalls in its annual report, which was slammed by the Turkish foreign ministry as making “baseless claims”.
The European Commission said in the report published on Tuesday that President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government had overseen a continued erosion of democracy and the rule of law and had ignored the EU’s recommendations last year.
The report also suggested for the first time that Ankara was no longer serious about delivering on EU-backed reforms, even though Erdogan recommitted in April to the goal of full EU membership as both sides tried to improve relations.
“The EU’s serious concerns on the continued deterioration of democracy, the rule of law, fundamental rights and the independence of the judiciary have not been addressed. There was further backsliding in many areas,” the Commission said.
“Under the current circumstances, Turkey’s accession negotiations have effectively come to a standstill,” it said.
 
Turkey’s foreign ministry said the report showed a “double-standard approach” by the EU and rejected the “unfair criticisms and baseless claims”. It accused the bloc of failing to keep its promises to Turkey and of not fulfilling its responsibilities.
“Turkey maintains in the strongest terms its strategic choice of full EU membership,” the ministry said in a statement.
“It would be in everyone’s interest if the EU, taking into account our common general interests, sees Turkey as a candidate country that is negotiating, not as a partner with whom to have daily give-take relations.”
Since Erdogan’s hardline response to an attempted coup in July 2016, the paths of EU and Turkey have diverged sharply [File: Reuters]
A NATO ally, Turkey has been negotiating its EU membership since 2005 after economic and political reforms that made it an important emerging market economy and trade partner.
But since Erdogan’s hardline response to an attempted coup in July 2016, the paths of EU and Turkey have diverged sharply, despite better diplomatic relations since the start of 2021.
A purge of opponents launched in mid-2016 continues, the report said, noting “broad-scale restrictions imposed on the activities of journalists, writers, lawyers, academics, human rights defenders and critical voices”.
Ankara said its security measures are necessary, given the severity of the threats facing Turkey, which shares land borders with Iraq and Syria.
Erdogan’s increase of presidential powers from 2017, which the EU said lack sufficient democratic checks, and his more forceful foreign policy, have also badly strained relations.
In its 2021 report, the Commission questioned Turkey’s “ability to assume the obligations of membership” and said Ankara pursued reforms in areas from the economy to rule of law “on a rather ad hoc basis”.
It is for the EU’s 27 member states, not the Commission, to decide whether Turkey’s EU membership bid should be formally annulled. Many believe they should nudge Turkey into a different, looser relationship based around deeper trade ties.
SOURCE: AL JAZEERA, REUTERS
RELATED
An­gela Merkel hopes Ger­many con­tin­ues to work with Turkey
In farewell vis­it to Turkey, out­go­ing chan­cel­lor says se­cu­ri­ty and in­de­pen­dence of both coun­tries de­pend on each oth­er.
16 Oct 2021
Turkey is­sues re­buke to 10 West­ern em­bassies over Kavala case
Ankara sum­mons en­voys over joint call for re­lease of Os­man Kavala, who has been jailed with­out con­vic­tion since 2017.
19 Oct 2021
Turkey’s lira sinks to new low with lit­tle re­prieve in sight
Ex­pec­ta­tions of an in­ter­est rate cut lat­er this week, de­spite high in­fla­tion, are pres­sur­ing the lira.
18 Oct 2021
Er­do­gan says Turkey in talks with US on sale of F-16 fight­er jets
Turk­ish pres­i­dent says the US pro­posed the sale of F-16 fight­er jets in re­turn for its in­vest­ment in the F-35 pro­gramme.
17 Oct 2021
MORE FROM NEWS
Canada: Indigenous community finds 93 potential unmarked graves
Microsoft exceeds quarterly revenue estimates on cloud growth
Taiwan vice president heads to Honduras to work on shaky alliance
Cuba acknowledges prosecuting hundreds for last year’s protests
MOST READ
A simple guide to the Ukraine-Russia crisis: 5 things to know
Latest Russia-Ukraine updates: US says Putin may face sanctions
Western leaders step up plans for Russian invasion of Ukraine
Infographic: Military capabilities of Russia and Ukraine
Follow Al Jazeera English:
© 2022 Al Jazeera Media Network
 
 
You rely on Al Jazeera for truth and transparency
We understand that your online privacy is very important and consenting to our collection of some personal information takes great trust. We ask for this consent because it allows Al Jazeera to provide an experience that truly gives a voice to the voiceless. You have the option to decline the cookies we automatically place on your browser but allowing Al Jazeera and our trusted partners to use cookies or similar technologies helps us improve our content and offerings to you. You can change your privacy preferences at any time by selecting ‘Cookie preferences’ at the bottom of your screen.To learn more, please view our Cookie Policy.