EU postpones progress report on Turkey
BRUSSELS / ANKARA
REUTERS photoThe European Commission has surprisingly postponed the release of its annual progress report on Turkey’s EU membership application process, amid a key visit to the EU capital by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan during which the growing refugee crisis tops the agenda.
EU sources, speaking to Cihan news agency on Oct. 5, confirmed that the release of the report scheduled for Oct. 14 has been postponed to Oct. 21. The sources said some EU members objected to the fact that the original release date would immediately follow a planned EU summit set for Oct. 13.
The EU has been especially critical of the recent intensification of the crackdown on media in Turkey, which already languished far down global press freedom rankings. Scores of people have been investigated on accusations of insulting Erdoğan, who nonetheless remains Turkey’s most popular politician.
Europe’s worst migration crisis since the break-up of former Yugoslavia has EU governments looking to Erdoğan to help stem the flow of refugees, as record numbers of people flee Syria’s civil war and the rise of radical militants in Iraq.
“It couldn’t come at a better, or worse, time,” one senior EU diplomat involved in Europe’s Turkish policy recently told Reuters.
“Europe needs help but Turkey is less than a month away from elections and unrest is rising,” the diplomat said, referring to the Nov. 1 snap election marred by rising conflict between Turkish security forces and militants of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).