Wednesday

14th Nov 2018

Lifting emergency laws could unfreeze Turkey's EU bid

  • Turkey is set for snap elections on 24 June (Photo: David Stanley)

The European Union may consider unfreezing accession talks with Turkey should the country lift its state of emergency decrees.

Christian Berger, the EU's ambassador to Turkey, said removing the state of emergency would be seen as a "very symbolic" gesture.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

"If that were to change then I think member states would take this up again and reflect again on what to do next," the Austrian national told reporters in Istanbul on Wednesday (30 May).

Turkey's state of emergency has led to mass arrests, arbitrary sackings, and allegations of torture since the failed coup in 2016. Last month, it was extended for the seventh time.

It is unclear to what extent Vienna, which takes over the EU presidency in the second half of the year, would submit to reopening talks, given that Austria's chancellor Sebastian Kurz has called for an end to Turkey's accession bid.

The EU and Ankara also held a frosty summit in Varna, Bulgaria, in March where the two sides remained at odds over numerous issues when it comes to rule of law, mass jailing of journalists, detention of Greek soldiers, and wider conflicts with Syria and Cyprus.

Berger's comments come ahead of a delegation of EU officials who will be arriving on Thursday in Ankara to discuss outstanding issues to lift short stay visas on Turks travelling to Europe.

This includes, among other things, demands to reform Turkey's anti-terror laws.

Accelerating the visa waiver is an EU concession following a deal with Turkey in March 2016 to stem the flow of migrants to the Greek islands.

Turkey had earlier this year submitted its plans to the European Commission on how to sort the terror laws to meet EU conditions.

But Berger's comments also come ahead of moves by Turkey's president Erdogan to further consolidate his political grip with presidential and parliament snap elections set for 24 June.

The country is grappling with a spike in inflation, unemployment,a and a budget deficit that has increased 58 percent in the past year. Erdogan is also facing allied opposition parties and candidates bent on unseating him.

Should he win another five years as president, then the new constitution voted through a controversial referendum last year, would most likely come into force a day later.

The constitution has already granted Erdogan a stronger role in appointing judges, a move criticised by the Strasbourg-based human rights watchdog, the Council of Europe.

The whole is part of a wider shift away from a parliament system of governance to one that concentrates power into the executive.

"More powers are now moving to the executive and what we would see as control functions of a parliament vis a vis a government or the executive is not as strong any more," said Berger.

Turkey 'ready' to reform terror laws for EU visa deal

Faruk Kaymakci, Turkey's ambassador to the EU, says Ankara is ready to reform its anti-terror laws and meet all outstanding benchmarks so that Turks can travel freely to EU member states without visas.

EU-Turkey summit ends with 'no solutions'

Bulgaria's prime minister Boyko Borisov described a meeting at the Black Sea resort of Varna between the presidents of Turkey, the EU council, and the European commission as "charged with great tension." Disputes remain far from resolved.

Feature

EU and Turkey fight for 'lost generation'

Some 300,000 school-age Syrian children in Turkey are not enrolled in classes. Fears they may end up in sweatshops or forced to beg have triggered efforts by the EU, Unicef, and the Turkish government to keep them in school.

Opinion

Turkey: purged beyond return

Turkey's state of emergency following a failed military coup has resulted in a government-led purge of some 130,000 people. Its "State of Emergency Inquiry Commission" to review decisions has only overturned seven percent of the cases.

News in Brief

  1. Full text of Brexit withdrawal agreement published
  2. UK cabinet agrees Brexit withdrawal deal after marathon session
  3. Czechs join other EU states in rejecting UN migration pact
  4. EU Commission to give verdict on Italy budget next week
  5. EU's Tusk is Poland's most trusted politician
  6. Finland prepares to step in for Romania on EU presidency
  7. Trump threatens tariffs on EU wine
  8. US defence chief backs Nato amid 'EU army' calls

Opinion

EU should brace for a more authoritarian Erdogan

The new blend of religious nationalism will be more anti-West and anti-EU, as Brussels has anything but leverage on Turkey. The first signs of this strong rhetoric are already visible.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSTheresa May: “We will not be turning our backs on the Nordic region”
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsOpen letter to Emmanuel Macron ahead of Uzbek president's visit
  3. International Partnership for Human RightsRaising key human rights concerns during visit of Turkmenistan's foreign minister
  4. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSState of the Nordic Region presented in Brussels
  5. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  6. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  7. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General
  8. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSNordic design sets the stage at COP24, running a competition for sustainable chairs.
  9. Counter BalanceIn Kenya, a motorway funded by the European Investment Bank runs over roadside dwellers
  10. ACCACompany Law Package: Making the Best of Digital and Cross Border Mobility,
  11. International Partnership for Human RightsCivil Society Worried About Shortcomings in EU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Dialogue
  12. UNESDAThe European Soft Drinks Industry Supports over 1.7 Million Jobs

Latest News

  1. Asylum for Macedonia's ex-PM put Orban on spot
  2. How the 'EU's Bank' fails to raise the bar on accountability
  3. Knives out on all sides for draft Brexit deal
  4. Romania data chief defends forcing press to reveal sources
  5. EU to review animal welfare strategy
  6. Macron's 'European army': why is everyone talking about it?
  7. Merkel calls for 'real, true' EU army
  8. Italy defiant on budget on eve of EU deadline

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us