The reports keep getting worse, in this case this is the worst report since 2005–thirteen years, for the math challenged. The shame of it is that while Turkey is looking less and less like an EU state, the EU is looking more and more like Turkey. Maybe, at some point in the future, the EU will be asking to become part of the Arab League?
Lost amid Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s stunning announcement today that presidential and parliamentary elections would be held concurrently on June 24, nearly 17 months ahead of schedule, was the European Union’s yearly report on Turkey’s progress toward full membership in the bloc. The harshest report since talks began in 2005 received scant attention from the press, but it triggered howls of protest from Turkish officials.
The report released yesterday decries the weakening of Turkey’s democracy, ongoing mass arrests in the wake of the failed 2016 coup and mounting pressure on civil society along with the lack of a level playing field in the run-up to the April 2017 referendum on switching from a parliamentary system to an executive presidency. In addition, it notes “serious backsliding” in judicial reform and freedom of expression and cites human rights abuses in the majority-Kurdish southeast.
Regarding the state of emergency Ankara imposed after the attempted putsch, the EU wrote that it needs to lift it without delay. The Turkish government extended emergency rule by a further six months the day of the report’s release. As for the fight against corruption, the report says, “No progress was achieved.” Under the current circumstances, it is “unthinkable” in the EU’s eyes to open new accession chapters. Johannes Hahn, EU commissioner for enlargement negotiations, declared that Turkey was taking “huge strides away” from the bloc.