Oct 25 2017

Turkey’s EU accession process should end - think-tank

The Head of EU Foreign Policy at the Centre for European Policy Studies think-tank has said that Turkey’s European Union accession process should be ended due to the country’s growing authoritarianism.

In an article for CNN on Tuesday, Steven Blockmans wrote that Turkey should be encouraged to reapply only when it “is ready to accept the rules of the club”.

Rather than try to avoid aggravating an autocrat, the EU should stand behind its core values, terminate Turkey's accession process and reset its bilateral relationship on a more credible and strategic footing.

At the same time, it should press Turkey on human rights and fund work with organisations in and outside the country to keep the flame of democracy alive.

Blockmans said that accession negotiations, which require prospective member states to meet democratic and political standards known as the Copenhagen Criteria, had actually produced the opposite effect in Turkish political life.

He acknowledged that some countries which were already EU member states, such as Hungary and Poland, had also been backsliding, but called on the union to “send a clear message that the political criteria for membership are non-negotiable”.

Blockmans also appeared to argue that European intervention might be required in Turkish domestic political affairs in support of the beleaguered political opposition – something President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is unlikely to welcome.

If the EU is seen to get tough with the regime while supporting any remaining political opposition, it will prove itself to be a more effective antidote to the authoritarian rule of President Erdoğan.

Turkish commentators have a record of attacking civil society institutions that benefit from EU funding as a potential fifth column.

The danger of overt EU support for the political opposition in Turkey, therefore, is that it could potentially be used to justify further repression.

 

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