Juncker: No EU progress while Turkey jails journalists

The President of the European Union Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, has made a statement ruling out improved ties between Turkey and the Union while journalists remain in Turkish prisons:

Turkey is moving away from its European ambitions of the past and we are going to have to see what kind of progress Turkey makes in the coming months. But there will not be any kind of progress while there are journalists in Turkish jails.

In December 2017, Turkey topped the Committee to Protect Journalists group’s list as the worst jailer of journalists in the world for the second year running. The Turkish Journalists’ Association reports that 160 journalists have been imprisoned in the country.

This issue, Juncker told the press conference in Bulgaria, has frustrated relations with the EU, which considers freedom of expression the “cornerstone of democracy.” Turkey’s decades-long drive for accession to the Union hit a major obstacle in April 2017, when the Council of Europe voted to reopen its monitoring procedure against the country.