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EU Report Castigates Turkey Over Democracy and Human Rights Issues

In a hard-hitting assessment released today, the European Union leveled pointed criticisms at Turkey, highlighting significant regressions in the country’s democratic institutions and practices. The comprehensive report points to an ongoing democratic backslide and structural failings within Turkey’s presidential system, raising concerns over the state of political pluralism, judicial independence, and fundamental freedoms.

According to the EU, recent elections in Turkey were marred by media bias and unfair conditions, which ostensibly gave President Erdoğan and his party an undue edge. The report asserts that Turkey’s constitutional design has overly centralized power in the hands of the presidency, failing to ensure a robust and effective separation of powers. This imbalance is exacerbated by the continued undermining of political plurality, with opposition parties and individual legislators facing targeted actions.

The EU report goes further, accusing the Turkish government of exerting undue pressure on local governance by targeting mayors from opposition parties, thereby weakening the foundations of local democracy. Civil society organizations in Turkey are also reportedly facing intensifying pressure and shrinking operational space, leading to significant curtailments of freedom of expression, assembly, and association.

In the judicial realm, the report finds that despite several reform packages touted by the Turkish government, structural deficiencies remain unaddressed, resulting in a worrying decline in judicial independence. The government’s disregard for certain European Court of Human Rights rulings continues to fuel unease within the international community.

Corruption remains a persistent challenge, the EU states, pointing to Turkey’s lack of a comprehensive anti-corruption policy and action plan as evidence of insufficient commitment to tackle the issue head-on. This, the report claims, is in direct contravention of the United Nations Convention against Corruption, to which Turkey is a signatory. The report also notes that the recommendations by the Council of Europe’s Group of States against Corruption (GRECO) have gone unheeded.

The EU’s dissection of the state of freedom of expression in Turkey paints a bleak picture, with journalists, academics, and human rights defenders among those facing severe constraints. The application of penal laws concerning national security and the fight against terrorism is cited as being at odds with the European Convention on Human Rights, with no sign of alignment on the horizon.

This detailed censure from the European Union echoes concerns voiced by various human rights organizations and is likely to cast a long shadow over Turkey’s relations with the bloc, with implications for its longstanding bid for EU membership. The Turkish government has yet to respond to the contents of the report.

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