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
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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)


Door will stay open to Palestinians despite Bahrain boycott, Kushner tells Arab News

Updated 18 min 20 sec ago
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Door will stay open to Palestinians despite Bahrain boycott, Kushner tells Arab News

  • Kushner said US President Donald Trump had delivered on his promises to everyone, and would deliver on his promise to Palestinians
  • Kushner says he has laid out a great framework in which Palestinians can engage 'if they want to make their people’s lives better'

MANAMA: The “Peace to Prosperity” conference in Bahrain was “a remarkable couple of days,” White House adviser Jared Kushner said on Wednesday as he was pressed by Israeli reporters demanding to know what consequences Palestinians would face for refusing to attend.
The conflict was a “solvable problem economically,” Kushner said. “The Palestinian people have been promised a lot of things over the years that have not come true, and I do want to show them that this is the plan, this is what could happen if there is a peace deal.”
Kushner said he planned to follow up with investors to secure the funding. “Once we have that, we will roll into the political plan but we will do it with a context of people having the opportunity to digest what is possible.” It was a “constant theme” during the conference “that this is actually very doable,” he said.
Kushner’s press secretary controlled who could ask questions. He said he would only allow four, and called Israeli journalists from i24 Israeli TV and The Times of Israel.  When the press secretary waved me away, I asked if he would take a question from the only Palestinian reporter present, writing for Arab News. Kushner said: “Yes.”
I asked if he was going to close the door or leave it open to the Palestinians as his vision for economic peace moved forward.
“If they actually want to make their people’s lives better, we have now laid out a great framework in which they can engage and try to achieve it,” Kushner replied.
“We have left the door open the whole time. One thing you have seen with me is I tend not to get emotional about transactions at the end of the day, I understand people have their domestic politics and people have different ways of reacting.

“I think what you have seen from us is that we have been very respectful, very straightforward. We have been very deliberate. We take actions, not weighing the
political consequences. We have been weighing what is right and wrong.”
Kushner said US President Donald Trump had delivered on his promises to everyone, and would deliver on his promise to Palestinians.
“President Trump has said he wants to help the Palestinians achieve a better future for themselves, and I hope they will take it very seriously that he has been trying to do that. Hopefully what you have seen in the last couple of days shows there has been a lot of effort on a very high level, a lot of resources devoted to it.
“We are going to keep moving forward and we will put out our political plan at the right time. I do think that one of the things from today is that it will be very hard for people to go back to looking at this through a traditional lens. I do think that hopefully we have helped people look at it a little bit differently, and that is one of our goals.”