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EU Urges Members to Stop Stalling With Turkey 9 octobre 2014

Posted by Acturca in EU / UE, Turkey / Turquie, Turkey-EU / Turquie-UE.
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The Wall Street Journal Europe (USA) Wednesday,  8 octobre 2014                 Türkçe

By Laurence Norman and Yeliz Candemir

Brussels – The European Union’s executive urged member states Wednesday to advance long-stalled membership talks with Turkey but underscored the obstacles in the way by raising « serious concerns » about government meddling with the judiciary and restrictions on the press.

The European Commission called on member states to start negotiations with Turkey on two key chapters in accession talks–justice and rule-of-law–arguing this was the best way to lock Ankara into reforms guaranteeing civil rights and judicial independence.

Turkey’s Minister for EU Affairs and Chief Negotiator Volkan Bozkir said Wednesday the EU’s annual report on accession negotiations is « objective » and « balanced » and he said Turkey will note carefully right and reasonable criticisms.

« We see that our many suggestions have been taken into consideration during the preparation of the report. A balanced report has been prepared, » Mr. Bozkir told reporters at a press conference in Ankara.

He added that there were some criticisms that Turkey didn’t agree with as well as some error of fact and that he would submit a response to the officials verbally or in a written statement.

Turkey’s EU accession bid, which started almost a decade ago, has long been stalled and ties between Brussels and Ankara have frayed as the bloc criticized now-President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s crackdown on antigovernment protesters and efforts to head off a major corruption probe.

A number of powerful member states, including Germany and the Netherlands, have long been wary of allowing Turkey into the bloc.

However since Mr. Erdogan’s move to the presidency last month, Ankara has shown renewed interest in the EU bid. Mr. Erdogan said last week that membership in the bloc remains his long-term strategic goal and the government has rolled out plans to push reforms that would ease its EU path.

« Active and credible accession negotiations provide the most suitable framework for exploiting the full potential of EU-Turkey relations, » the commission said on Wednesday, in its annual report on accession negotiations. « Opening negotiations on » the justice and rule of law chapters « would provide Turkey with a comprehensive road map for reforms in this essential area. »

The EU’s executive said, however, that the government’s response to corruption allegations that emerged late last year « have given rise to serious concerns regarding the independence of the judiciary and separation of powers. »

« Attempts to ban social media, later overturned by the Constitutional Court, and pressures on the press leading to a widespread self-censorship, reflect a restrictive approach to freedom of expression,  » the Commission said.

Mr. Erdogan, who served as prime minister for more than a decade until his move to the presidency, has denied any wrongdoing in the corruption probe which snared dozens of his top allies. He has said the charges were an attempt to overthrow the government. Security forces detained dozens of police officers who helped bring the corruption charges.

Turkey started talks to join the EU in 2005. However, its dispute with EU member Cyprus and political opposition in Berlin and elsewhere have seen the negotiations make limited progress.

Last year, the EU started negotiations with Ankara on regional affairs, the first time in three years it opened up a new policy area with Turkey. Of the 35 policy chapters that candidate countries must complete to bring national standards in line with the bloc’s rules, only 13 have so far been opened.

In recent months, there have been signs that Brussels, traditionally a strong supporter of the accession bid, could lose interest in the talks. The current commission team leaves office on October 31 and new commission President Jean-Claude Juncker has said he sees no country joining the bloc in the next five years.

The EU is currently in membership talks with Turkey and five other countries.

In Wednesday’s report, the commission welcomed progress made since the start of accession talks with Serbia in January but warned Belgrade against moving ahead with its part of the South Stream project, a pipeline which would bring Russian gas to the EU bypassing Ukraine.

Brussels has effectively put the South Stream project on hold because of the Ukraine crisis, but Serbia has said it would soon start constructing its part of the pipeline. Brussels has raised legal concerns about the project, saying it doesn’t meet the bloc’s rules on separating pipeline and gas-delivery ownership.

For the fifth year running, the commission recommended accession talks begin with the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. Greece has blocked the negotiations over the use of the name Macedonia.

However the EU executive warned that backward steps on media freedom and corruption in Macedonia and Montenegro could imperil future accession progress.

Download : Turkey Progress Report 2014 (Format Pdf)

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