European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker addressing the European Parliament during a debate on The State of the European Union in Strasbourg, France, September 13, 2017. AP, Geert Vanden Wijngaert
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – The European Union’s president said on Wednesday that he saw no prospect of Turkey joining the EU as they have become increasingly critical of the nation amid concerns over the deteriorating human rights situation in the country.
“Turkey has been taking giant strides away from the European Union for some time,” Jean-Claude Juncker, head of the executive Commission, said in his annual speech to the European Parliament.
Relations have become increasingly strained between Ankara and Berlin in the wake of the coup attempt in Turkey last year as Germany has been critical of what it sees as a deterioration of the rule of law.
“Accession candidates must give the rule of law, justice and fundamental rights utmost priority,” he said. “This rules out EU membership for Turkey for the foreseeable future.”
The EU has criticized Turkey’s President Recep Teyip Erdogan after he launched a major crackdown against his critics, including academics and journalists after the failed coup attempt last year.
Turkish officials have also accused Germany of “Nazi-like” tactics when Turkish politicians were banned from campaigning in Germany ahead of its constitution referendum earlier this year. Germany issued the ban citing security concerns.
“Journalists belong in newsrooms not in prisons. They belong where freedom of expression reigns,” Juncker said. “Stop insulting our member states by comparing their leaders to fascists and Nazis.”
To formally end Ankara’s accession negotiations requires unanimity between EU members, which is currently lacking. However, a majority backing by member states is enough to suspend them.
A summit will be held in Brussels in October where EU leaders will discuss Turkey, though any formal decision by the EU may not come until early next year.