Turkey: EU to be hard on Erdogan for Gezi crackdown

Report tomorrow expected to be 'most critical in years'

15 October, 17:33

    (ANSAmed) - ANKARA, OCTOBER 15 - The Turkish press expects the European Commission report due out Wednesday to be the ''hardest on it in years''. The report is in relation to Turkey's EU membership talks, which have being almost at a standstill since 2005.

    Media outlets say that Brussels will criticise Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's government over the brutal crackdown on the Gezi Park protests in June - in which six people lost their lives and over 8,000 were injured - as well as press freedom violations. The Commission is not expected to oppose the opening of a new negotiation chapter (the 22nd), reports Zaman, saying that to the contrary the EU wants to open two more chapters on fundamental freedoms and security and justice. The 2012 report strongly criticised the Erdogan government and sparked irritation in Ankara. A leader of the governing AKP party, Burhan Kuzu, ''threw it in the rubbish'' in a live television broadcast, and Economy Minister Zafer Caglayan labelled the EU ''the most hypocritical institution of all time, the most hypocritical in the world''. Too many journalists, union leaders, Kurdish politicians, students and soldiers are being held on charges of ''terrorism'', there is ongoing abuse of freedom of expression and the press and intolerance continues to be shown toward religious minorities, Brussels said in 2012. The 2013 is expected to contain a number of positive signals as well, though, that aim to keep relations with Ankara on track. The Turkish press says Brussels will praise the 'democratization' measures Erdogan announced in late September (the most well-known of which was the revoking of a ban on the Muslim headscarf in public offices), the starting of a fragile peace process (currently on hold) with the PKK rebels, and the face of moderation shown by President Abdullah Gul, who has found himself ever more in disagreement with Erdogan within the same AKP party. The EU report is being released against a backdrop of polls showing that Turks no longer believe in 'the European dream'. For half a century the country had been waiting patiently at the gates of 'Fortress Europe', but since 2005 only a single negotiations chapter has been concluded. Many Europeans are against any potential entrance into the EU of a Muslim country as large as France and with some 76 million inhabitants.

    Turkey's rigid position on the issue of Cyprus, the northern section of which it has occupied since 1974, doesn't help matters any, and today 74% of Turks ''have lost hope'' of belonging to the EU one day. Minister for EU Affairs Egemen Bagis recently said that Ankara ''will probably never enter'' the EU. On Monday Bagis expressed his disapproval of the date chosen to release the 2013 release, falling as it does midway in the Muslim Feast of Sacrifice, Eid Al-Adha - or 'Bayram', as it is known in Turkey, where shops and offices are closed for the holiday. Bagis wrote on Twitter that no comments on the report would be made until next Monday. (ANSAmed).

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