EU Commission: Turkey should improve relations with EU member-states

Turkey should lift the state of emergency it imposed after the failed coup of July 15, 2016 and commit itself unequivocally to good neighbourly relations, the European Commission said on Tuesday, in its annual accession assessments.

During a meeting which adopted the Committee’s annual Enlargement Package, including annual assessments of the Economic Reform Programmes for the Western Balkans and Turkey, the Commission said there was “serious backsliding” by Turkey in applying the country’s legal guarantees of respect for human and fundamental rights.

Among other issues, the Commission’s key findings report on the country for 2018 also mentioned Turkey’s deteriorating relations with several EU member states, the continued detention of EU citizens in Turkey including the two Greek soldiers, and the peaceful settlement of disputes in accordance with the United Nations Charter.

Although cooperation with Greece and Bulgaria on migration further intensified, the Commission said in its report, tensions in the Aegean Sea and Eastern Mediterranean “were not conducive to good neighbourly relations and undermined regional stability and security.”

Commissioner Johannes Hahn, responsible for enlargement, noted that Turkey will remain a significant strategic partner of the EU and will continue to collaborate with Ankara on sectors of mutual interest. In this framework, he said, the Commission recommended that Turkey continue to provide refuge and support for over 3.5 million refugees from Syria who have been registered on Turkish territory. “The EU remains committed to helping Turkey, so it may meet these challenges,” Hahn said.