Saturday, November 03, 2007

EU Draft Progress Report Gives Low Marks To Turkey

International Herald Tribune, “EU Report criticizes pace of reform in Turkey”

A draft of the annual progress report from the EU shows concern over Turkey’s lack of attention to rooting out corruption, modernizing its judiciary, reducing the power of the military and increasing freedom of expression. The EU will release the official annual progress report next week. The report will likely describe the EU’s expansion plans.

The draft report does have some positive, including Turkey’s “‘unique interface between the West and the Muslim world,’ a diplomatic and military partner and an energy hub.” However, the report mainly focuses on what Turkey needs to do to increase their chances of gaining EU membership. In short, the report urges Turkey to renew the previous momentum of political reforms. One example of a misstep was when the Turkish military making statements about the presidency, causing a mini-crisis and parliamentary elections. The report also focuses on Turkey’s lack of progress in fighting widespread corruption and the high number of journalists, intellectuals and human rights activists prosecuted for expressing nonviolent opinions.

One pundit feels that a number of governments that have been pro-Turkey are now “backpedaling.” The same pundit believes Turkey’s best hope for eventually joining the EU is to hope that the European climate changes. Aside from political analysts, even public opinion in the EU seems to be against Turkey joining the EU

The final version of the document may also make a plea to Turkey to avoid disproportionate retaliation. The report, which covers the whole EU enlargement process, also says that Croatia might be able to join the bloc by the end of the decade if it speeds up the reform of its judiciary and the fight against corruption.

Questions for discussion: (1) What do you think Turkey's chances are of eventually joining the EU?; (2) What other countries should the EU consider for admission?

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