EU poised to end Turkish entry bid 

EU poised to end Turkish entry bid 

EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini. Source: Wikimedia

The EU is considering freezing negotiations over Turkey’s bid to join as tensions flare over the measures Ankara has taken since July 15’s botched coup attempt.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and EU representatives are questioning the rationale of continuing membership talks amid fresh criticism over democracy and the rule of law.

The foreign policy chief in Brussels, Federica Mogherini, expressed “grave concern” about plans to reinstate the death penalty, newspaper closures and arrests of opposition leaders. She said there were “extremely worrying developments which weaken the rule of law, the respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms and compromise parliamentary democracy in Turkey”.

Last week, the government arrested the editor and senior staff of Cumhuriyet, a key secular newspaper. Its editor-in-chief, Can Dundar, is already in exile in Germany, after an “espionage” conviction for publishing court details of gun-running to Syrian jihadis by the Turkish security services. Last week journalists were accused of giving support to the “terrorists” the government says were behind the coup and the Kurdistan Workers’ party (PKK) insurgency in the southeast.

The European Commission report this week is expected to conclude that the democratic situation in Turkey has deteriorated since last year.

The EU’s 28 foreign ministers are due to meet in Brussels to discuss whether to suspend membership talks, according to sources.

The move may imperil the migration deal with Turkey and further strain ties during the fight against so-called Islamic State in neighbouring Syria and Iraq. The migration accord over the past few months has helped prevent most Iraqi and Syrian migrants from reaching the EU.

The draft report said that around 40,000 people had been detained since July and 140,000 public employees had been sacked or suspended, more than 4,000 institutions and private firms had been shut down and had their assets seized or transferred to state-owned entities.

“The broad scale and collective nature of these measures raised a number of very serious questions. There are serious concerns with regard to the vagueness of the criteria applied and evidence used … leading to a perception of ’guilt by association’,” the draft report said.

Meanwhile, on Sunday Erdogan questioned whether to continue with the bid to join the EU.

“What are we to expect from the European Union that kept Turkey at its gates for 53 years? Let’s not kid ourselves; we will cut our own umbilical cord,” Erdogan said.

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