EU’s Hahn says urgent need for negative trend in Turkey to be reversed

Johannes Hahn, commissioner for European Neighborhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations.

Johannes Hahn, the European commissioner for neighborhood policy and enlargement negotiations, said on Tuesday that there is an urgent need for the negative trend in Turkey to be reversed for the reciprocal engagement between Turkey and the EU to be sustainable.

Speaking during a debate in the plenary session on Turkey-EU relations in the European Parliament on Tuesday, Hahn said: “The high representative and I made it clear to all Turkish counterparts that there is an urgent need for the current trend to be reversed if we want our reciprocal engagement to be sustainable. This goes for the domestic situation, with continued dismissals, suspensions and arrests but equally so for bilateral relations between Turkey and some EU member states.”

Earlier in July, Hahn criticized Turkey for rapidly distancing itself from European values and said this has had a negative impact on Turkey-European Union relations.

Hahn also criticized Turkish authorities for the crackdown on government opponents, academics, judges, prosecutors, police officers, soldiers and journalists especially through decrees issued as part of the emergency rule declared after a failed coup in July of last year.

Meanwhile, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said on Wednesday that Turkey is distancing itself from the European Union and will not become a member of the bloc in the “foreseeable future.”Juncker said Ankara has for some time been “moving away from the European Union in leaps and bounds.” He has also said that the attitude of Turkish government “rules out EU membership for Turkey in the foreseeable future.”

“Turkey has been taking giant strides away from the European Union for some time,” said Juncker in his annual keynote speech to the European Parliament on the state of the bloc and added that  “Accession candidates must give utmost priority to the rule of law, justice and fundamental rights. This rules out EU membership for Turkey for the foreseeable future,” he added.

Referring to the ongoing war of words between Berlin and Ankara, in which Turkey’s autocratic President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan accused Berlin of “Nazi-like” tactics, prompting German Chancellor Angela Merkel to call for an end to Turkey’s membership talks, despite it being a crucial NATO ally, Juncker underlined that “Journalists belong in newsrooms not in prisons. They belong where freedom of expression reigns. Stop insulting our member states by comparing their leaders to fascists and Nazis.”

After EU-Turkey ties became strained due to the Turkish government’s crackdown on dissents, a resolution calling for the freezing of membership negotiations with Turkey if Ankara were to implement a constitutional overhaul, backed by a referendum in April, was adopted by a large majority of votes in the European Parliament on July 6.

The resolution, proposed by Turkey rapporteur for the European Parliament Kati Piri, “calls on the Commission and the member states, in accordance with the Negotiating Framework, to formally suspend the accession negotiations with Turkey without delay if the constitutional reform package is implemented unchanged.”

The decision was grounded on the incompatibility of the reform package with the principle of separation of powers and the Copenhagen criteria. (SCF with

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