Reuters & Duvar English
The European Commission's annual report on Turkey's long-stalled European Union (EU) membership bid criticized on Nov. 8 its "serious backsliding" on democratic standards, the rule of law, human rights and judicial independence.
The report by the European Union's executive arm said that structural deficiencies in Turkey's judicial system remained unaddressed despite several judicial reforms.
"The lack of objective, merit-based, uniform, and pre-established criteria for recruiting and promoting judges and prosecutors remains a source of concern," the Commission said.
The report is meant to update Turkey's progress towards meeting standards for European Union membership, and could strain ties that are already troubled over immigration and, more recently, the war between Israel and the Hamas militant group in Gaza.
Turkey's bid to join the EU has been frozen for years after having launched membership talks in 2005. It has dismissed such criticism from the Commission as biased in years past.
The Commission said Turkey did not comply with the principles of the rule of law, human rights and fundamental freedoms in its fight against terrorism. "Anti-terror measures need to be proportionate," the report said.
The report also criticized Turkey for not implementing a ruling of the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights that called for the release of philanthropist Osman Kavala, who was detained in 2017 over attempting to oust the government.
The Commission said failure to comply with the Kavala ruling showed it has been "drifting away from the standards of human rights and fundamental freedoms to which it has subscribed as a member of the Council of Europe".
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said that the ECHR ruling no longer applied after Kavala was jailed for life over anti-government protests in 2013.
Gender-based violence and hate speech against minorities and LGBTI+ community remain a serious concern, the report added.
Homosexuality is not a crime in Turkey, but the government toughened its stance on LGBTI+ freedoms in recent months.
Turkey says EU is 'unjust and biased' on membership bid
The European Commission's annual report on Turkey's membership bid is "unjust and biased", the Turkish Foreign Ministry said.
"We categorically reject unfounded claims and unjust criticisms, particularly on the political criteria and the Chapter on Judiciary and Fundamental Rights," the Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
The Turkish ministry said the allegations were unfair and highlighted "the insincerity of EU's approach and a clear double-standard", adding that fundamental rights issues were contentious even among EU member states.
The Commission's report is meant to update Turkey's progress towards meeting standards for EU membership, and could strain ties that are already troubled over immigration and, more recently, the Israel's attacks on Gaza.