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)


Nine suspected militants killed in Egypt: ministry

Updated 57 min 22 sec ago

Nine suspected militants killed in Egypt: ministry

  • Police raids in Cairo targeted hideouts of “terrorist elements”
  • Those killed included “a commander of the Liwa Al-Thawra” extremist group

CAIRO: Nine suspected extremists including a commander have been killed in shootouts with police in suburbs of the Egyptian capital, the interior ministry said Wednesday.
Police raids to the east and south of Cairo targeted hideouts of “terrorist elements,” it said in a statement.
Those killed included “a commander of the Liwa Al-Thawra” extremist group, it added.
The Liwa Al-Thawra movement appeared in 2016 and has since claimed deadly attacks against the police and the Egyptian army.
Almost nine years after the 2011 uprising that toppled president Hosni Mubarak, security remains a chief concern in Egypt.
Hundreds of security personnel have died in an escalation of attacks since the military overthrow of Islamist president Muhammad Mursi in 2013.
That ouster was led by then army chief Abdel Fattah El-Sisi, who became president after 2014 polls and secured re-election last year with an official 97 percent of the vote.
In February 2018, the army launched a nationwide offensive against extremists, focused mainly on North Sinai, where the Daesh extremist group has a significant presence.
The authorities say some 650 suspected extremists and around 50 soldiers have been killed since.