EU decries lack of democracy in Turkey
The EU Commission lambasted the “negative trend” in Turkey in the area of democracy, the rule of law and fundamental rights as well as the “weakening of effective checks and balances in the political system” in a report that assessed the status of the enlargement package involving Western Balkans and Turkey.
“There are serious deficiencies in the functioning of Turkey’s democratic institutions. During the reporting period, democratic backsliding continued. Structural deficiencies in the presidential system remained in place,” the report said, adding that in the absence of an effective checks and balances mechanism, the democratic accountability of the executive branch continues to be limited to elections.
The report said the judiciary continued to systematically target members of the opposition parties in the national assembly, in relation to alleged terrorism-related offences.
Limited freedom of expression
According to the report, pressure on mayors from opposition parties by the ruling coalition government further weakened local democracy and civil society organizations faced increasing pressure, limiting their freedoms of expression, association and assembly.
The EU’s enlargement report also criticized Turkey’s unilateral foreign policy of being at odds with the EU priorities under the common foreign and security policy (CFSP), notably due to its military action in Syria and Iraq and a lack of alignment with EU restrictive measures against Russia.
“Turkey maintained a very low alignment rate with the EU stand on foreign and security policy of 7% (as of August 2022),” the report said.
Tensions in the East Mediterranean
The report urged Turkey to ease tensions in Eastern Mediterranean by respecting the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Greece.
“Relations with the EU deteriorated in the first half of 2022, due to repeated violations of Greek airspace by Turkish fighter jets in the Aegean and threatening Turkish statements regarding the sovereignty of Greek islands, and against Cyprus. In addition, Turkey continued to carry out military exercises in the maritime zones of Cyprus, and Turkish warships illegally obstructed survey activities in the Cypriot Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ),” according to the report.