Neighbourhood Commissioner Johannes Hahn, who is also responsible for enlargement negotiations, said today (9 November) that faced with the pressure of some political groups and some member states to freeze the negotiations with Turkey, he wants a clear mandate to discuss the issue with Ankara.
The European Commission published today the so-called “enlargement package“, consisting of the annual accession progress reports concerning Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Macedonia, Kosovo, Montenegro, Serbia and Turkey, as well as the regular “Strategy paper’ regarding the future of EU enlargement.
Regarding Turkey, the report stresses that following the failed 15 July coup attempt, extensive suspensions, dismissals, arrests and detentions took place over alleged links to the Gülen movement and involvement in the attempted coup.
The commission notes that the measures affected the whole spectrum of society with particular impact on the judiciary, police, gendarmerie, military, civil service, local authorities, academia, teachers, lawyers, the media and the business community. Multiple institutions and private companies were shut down, their assets seized or transferred to public institutions.
Speaking to the Brussels press, Hahn said that the measures taken by the authorities after the coup attempt now affect the whole society, that they hardly can be seen as protective, and that they are “destabilising the country”.
“Ankara has clearly chosen to move away from Europe”, Hahn said, explaining that the process had been ongoing over a couple of years, well before the coup.
The commissioner was asked about his reaction regarding calls from MEPs, such a fresh call from the S&D group, that the accession negotiations with Turkey be suspended.
The results of the US election show the need for the EU to start focusing on its own interests, Knut Fleckenstein, vice-president of the Socialists and Democrats group (S&D), told EurActiv.com.
Hahn acknowledged that not only MEPs, but some member states were urging to end accession negotiations with Turkey. In fact, this is precisely the case of his native Austria.
Austria’s Chancellor Christian Kern on Wednesday called on the European Union to end membership talks with Turkey in the wake of a massive government crackdown following a failed coup.
The EU has stepped up its criticism of Ankara since its arrest of prominent Kurdish lawmakers last week, and it said it would be Erdogan’s fault if Turkey failed to meet criteria for a promised removal of visa requirements for visiting Europe.
Speaking to a public event organised by the College of Europe yesterday, Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said Turks should blame Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan himself if the visa-free agreement fails.
The European Union stepped up criticism yesterday (8 November) of Turkey’s crackdown on opponents and alleged plotters behind a failed coup, drawing a sharp retort from Ankara, which accused Europe of failing to grasp the threats it faces.
“Every day, Turkey is drifting away from Europe”, Juncker said, speaking in French.
Earlier, Erdogan showed his frustration with the long stalemate over membership, saying the EU should take its final decision on Turkey’s application quickly.
“Reassess it, but do not delay in reassessing it. Make your final decision,” Erdoğan said in a televised speech.