ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Ankara’s policies drifted away from the European Union a top EU official said on Tuesday as the union released its harshest annual report to date, evaluating the county’s performance in democracy and human rights.
“I am afraid to say that our analysis shows that the county continues to take huge strides away from the European Union, in particular, in the areas of the rule of law, fundamental rights,” the Commissioner for European Enlargement Negotiations, Johannes Hahn, said during a press conference in Brussels.
“The Commission has repeatedly called on Turkey to reverse this negative trend as a matter of priority and makes very clear the recommendations on this in today’s report,” Hahn said.
A 112-page-long report by the European Commission revealed the deepening divisions between Ankara and Brussels, warning of rising authoritarianism in Turkey under the rule of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
It urged “without delay” an end to the state of emergency that enables Erdogan to bypass parliamentary checks and curtail or suspend freedoms.
Since the introduction of the state of emergency after the failed 2016 coup, authorities took over 150,000 people into custody, arrested 78,000, and dismissed more than 110,000 civil servants, the report’s introduction read.
“Under the state of emergency, the Parliament’s key function as legislative power was curtailed, as the government resorted to emergency decrees with ‘the force of law’ to also regulate issues which should have been processed under the ordinary legislative procedure,” the EU said about Erdogan’s rising powers as president.
Mounting reports of ill-treatment and torture in Turkish prisons, lack of independent judiciary, government sanctions on freedom of expression, and widespread corruption were other issues the report addressed.
It also highlighted the disproportional judicial acts against the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party’s (HDP) former leadership and lawmakers—at least nine of whom have been ousted from the Parliament and jailed.
Civil society was coming under growing pressure with many arrests of activists, and the recurrent use of bans of demonstrations, leading to a rapid shrinking of space for fundamental rights and freedoms, the EU said.
“Using a very broad interpretation of the fight against terrorism, increased restrictions were put in place on the rights of journalists and human rights defenders working on the Kurdish issue. Other associations and Kurdish-language media outlets were closed,” it noted.
In total, among those Kurdish outlets, the government shut down 175 media organizations as it increased pressure on the use of social media such as Twitter and Facebook.
Turkey and the EU share a history spanning over half a century.
An official accession process was launched in 2005, though the sides have made little progress since.
Editing by Karzan Sulaivany