The Council of the EU on Tuesday adopted conclusions on enlargement and stabilisation and association process ahead of the Euro Summit, which is expected to meet in inclusive format, with all 27 EU leaders on 16 December.
The Council of the European Union [Referred to as The Council] stated that it “looks forward to the holding of the first intergovernmental conferences with the Republic of North Macedonia and with Albania as soon as possible’ noting on the other hand that Turkey still remains a “candidate country”.
The Council concluded “with regret that Turkey continues to move further away” from the European Union (EU) and recalled its previous conclusion which noted that: “Turkey’s accession negotiations therefore effectively have come to a standstill and no further chapters can be considered for opening or closing”.
Whilst the Council commended Turkey for hosting almost 4 million refugees as part of their agreement, it also shared a number of “serious concerns” in regards to human rights and the rule of law in Turkey.
The Council reiterated its concerns about Turkey’s further and deeply worrying backsliding in the areas of democracy, rule of law, and fundamental rights including the freedom of expression, as well as the systemic lack of independence of the judiciary.
The Council noted the restrictive measures taken during the state of emergency and their profound negative impact on people in Turkey as well as the pressure on civil society and its organisations.
The EU’s emphasis on the systemic lack of independence and undue pressure on the judiciary was also taken as an item on the Council’s decisions which criticised “the restrictions, detentions, imprisonments, and other measures targeting journalists, academics, members of political parties, including parliamentarians, lawyers, human rights defenders, social media users, and others exercising their fundamental rights and freedoms.”
The Council also stressed the importance of respecting the legality and integrity of the electoral process, in particular against the backdrop of the numerous arrests, dismissals and replacements of democratically elected municipal mayors, and the targeting of opposition parties and their members.
Reiterating its grave concerns over negative developments in regards to democracy, the Council recalled the international standards and the obligations to which Turkey has subscribed and committed itself, and called on Turkey to urgently reverse the negative trends and credibly address the many serious shortcomings identified in the Commission’s report.
“Turkey should also step up its cooperation with the Council of Europe and its relevant bodies and institutions, address their key recommendations, fully implement the European Convention of Human Rights and other international human rights instruments to which Turkey is a party, as well as execute all judgments of the European Court of Human Rights in line with Article 46 of the ECHR,” the Council noted.
The Council also raised criticism against Turkey regarding its conflict with the EU on issue concerning the “regional peace” and a “stable and secure environment in the Eastern Mediterranean”.
“Turkey must stop all threats and actions that damage good neighbourly relations, normalise its relations with the Republic of Cyprus and respect the sovereignty of all EU Member States over their territorial sea and airspace as well as all their sovereign rights,” the Council stated, reminding EU’s commitment to the settlement on the Cyprus problem.
The Council noted with “concern that Turkey’s foreign policy has been increasingly colliding with the EU priorities under the Common Foreign and Security Policy, including regarding Libya and Operation IRINI,” .
The Council reiterated its call on Turkey to progressively align with the EU Common Foreign and Security Policy.