Brussels (AFP) – Turkey’s EU accession talks have come to a “standstill” as the country moves further away from the bloc, with little prospect of change in the near future, EU ministers said Tuesday.
“The council (of ministers) notes that Turkey has been moving further away from the European Union,” EU European affairs ministers meeting in Luxembourg said in a statement.
“Turkey’s accession negotiations have therefore effectively come to a standstill,” it said.
The European Union’s relations with Turkey have been badly strained by a series of rows over rights and the rule of law in recent years and especially since President Recep Tayyip Erdogan launched a massive crackdown after a failed coup against him in 2016.
Erdogan won elections Sunday which gave him even more power, stoking concerns in Brussels which issued only a short statement of congratulations.
EU ministers did acknowledge that Turkey remains a “key partner” for the EU on issues such as helping halt the migrant influx into Europe, but that only goes so far.
“The council is especially concerned about the continuing and deeply worrying backsliding on the rule of law and on fundamental rights including the freedom of expression,” they said.
“The deterioration of the independence and functioning of the judiciary cannot be condoned, nor can the ongoing restrictions, detentions, imprisonments and other measures targeting journalists, academics, members of political parties including parliamentarians, human rights defenders, social media users and others exercising their fundamental rights and freedoms.”