This Tuesday a top official of the European Union spoke about Turkey, issuing a warning to the country that not long ago had plans to join the EU. Turkey went through a failed coup d’état in July. In its aftermath, the country declared a state of emergency that continues to this day. The state of emergency gave Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan increased power to tackle the origin of the coup. Since Turkey declared a state of emergency, the country has seen strong measures taken against the political opposition. Reports from the country also talk about a crackdown on the Turkish media.
The European Union Is Unhappy with Recent Developments in Turkey
The European Union, through its representative, warned Turkey that the recent measures go against European values. The President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker said that Turkey’s pro-European stance is diminished by recent actions. With the situation in Turkey as it is, the country is giving the impression that it does not want to join the European bloc anymore.
“I note with bitterness, I who am a friend of Turkey, that Turkey is distancing itself from Europe every day,”
said Jean-Claude Juncker.
The comments from the President of the European Commission come after a difficult week that saw arrests in Turkey. Turkish authorities arrested 10 lawmakers from the pro-Kurdish party. Also, they arrested nine senior members of the staff of the Cumhuriyet newspaper. The newspaper supports the opposition in Turkey. The arrests were made under allegations of links to terrorist groups.
Another initiative that received criticism was the decision of Turkish authorities to restrict internet access. Turkish authorities limited access to social media websites and certain applications. Voices critical of the government say that it is just another measure to prevent any protests.
Jean-Claude Juncker Reminds Turkey of What It Could Lose
Also, Jean-Claude Juncker asked for Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to make the decision regarding whether or not Turkey wants to be a member country of the European Union. The President of the European Commission asked for an immediate yes or no answer from the Turkish President.
Jean-Claude Junker also warned Erdoğan that Turkey stands to lose visa-free travel in Europe. The European Union is going to reach a decision soon about allowing Turkish citizens free movement in Europe without requiring a visa.
“Mr. Erdogan will have to explain to the Turkish people why they will not be able to freely travel like all other Europeans throughout Europe because it will be he who has not fulfilled the conditions agreed in advance,”
said Jean-Claude Juncker.
The visa waiver is a part of a package of incentives that the European Union has promised Turkey. Aside from lifting visa requirements for Turkish citizens, the EU has promised to fast-track talks regarding Turkey joining the European Union. Another incentive is several billion euros in aid for the Syrian refugees currently in Turkey. The European Union made these promises to Turkey in exchange for help with preventing mass migration to the European continent.
Criticism of Turkey’s domestic affairs comes before the EU is going to release the latest progress report for Turkey’s membership negotiations this Wednesday.
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