EU criticizes human rights in Turkey, ‘backsliding’ on laws

International

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan speaks with cheering supporters during the inauguration of a mosque, in Istanbul, Friday, May 24, 2019. Turkey’s top election authority voided the election victory of an opposition candidate, ordering a rerun of the mayoral election in Istanbul, the country’s largest city on June 23, 2019.(Presidential Press Service via AP, Pool)

BRUSSELS (AP) — Turkey is moving backward in its quest to join the European Union and its membership talks will remain frozen, the bloc’s executive arm said Wednesday.

In a progress report on Turkey’s membership prospects, the European Commission criticized what it termed the country’s “serious backsliding in the areas of the rule of law and fundamental rights.”

The 28-country EU agreed last year that no new chapters in Turkey’s accession talks should be opened or closed. According to the report, “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.

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.

Turkey’s deputy foreign minister said the report contained “unjust and disproportionate criticisms” that were unacceptable.

In comments carried by the official Anadolu news agency, Faruk Kaymakci also dismissed claims that Turkey is drifting away from the EU.

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