European Commission flags severe concerns over Turkey's democracy

European Commission flags severe concerns over Turkey's democracy
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The annual report highlights democratic regression, concentration of power, and corruption as critical concerns.

The European Commission, in its annual report released today, highlighted severe deficiencies in the functioning of Turkey's democratic institutions. The report was presented at a press conference by European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and Commissioner for Neighborhood and Enlargement Oliver Varhelyi.

The report emphasized Turkey's continued regression in the democratization process and pointed out persistent structural issues, particularly in the presidential system.

"One-sided media coverage and the lack of a level playing field for candidates" in the recent elections were highlighted. The report criticized the concentration of power at the presidential level as per the Constitution and the absence of an effective separation of powers between the executive, legislature, and judiciary.

The report expressed concerns that targeting opposition parties and parliament members is undermining political pluralism. It further warned that government pressure on mayors from opposition parties is weakening local democracy.

The European Commission also stressed that Turkey has not yet considered the recommendations of the Venice Commission of the Council of Europe regarding the presidential system.

The report acknowledged Turkey's right and responsibility to combat terrorism but insisted this must be done while respecting the rule of law, human rights, and fundamental freedoms.

The report also highlighted increased pressure on civil society organizations, limiting freedom of expression, association, and assembly.

Serious concerns were raised about the continued decline in the independence of the judiciary despite several judicial reform packages. The report also lamented the non-implementation of some European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) judgments.

The report criticized the lack of effective anti-corruption measures, noting the limitations of the legal framework and institutional structure. It further stated that the lack of an anti-corruption strategy and action plan indicates a lack of will to fight corruption decisively.

Lastly, the report pointed out that the recommendations of the Council of Europe's Group of States against Corruption (GRECO) have not been implemented and that corruption remains a widespread issue.