An annual Turkey report by the European Commission, which brings heavy criticisms toward Turkey, is expected to bring a new wave of crisis between Ankara and Brussels.
According to parts of the draft report seen by the Daily Sabah, the EU is accelerating its criticisms on the rule of law while commending the country's economy and its cooperation with the EU on areas of migration and security. The report, which will be released today, comes three weeks after President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan held a summit with EU leaders in the Bulgarian town of Varna. Turkey is expected to receive the European Commission's most critical report since it launched its bid to join the EU over a decade ago, with Brussels warning that years of progress toward membership were being lost, officials said on Saturday. The EU side will once again state that they would not be opening new chapters of negotiations. Ankara says that despite heavy counter-terrorism measures taken at home and across its borders, as well as having survived an attempted military coup, Turkey protects its democratic power and capacity. In a challenge to the EU, Turkey stresses that if the EU has concerns regarding human rights in Turkey, then it should open the chapters of the EU acquis that will require the country to carry out reforms.
Despite the harsh criticism, the EU praises Turkey for hosting nearly 4 million refugees from war-torn neighboring countries, the mass majority of whom are Syrians. Another point Brussels keeps positive toward Turkey is the talks on upgrading the customs union agreement. Both sides have previously reiterated that updating the deal is a mutual benefit for their economies. Turkey is the only country that has had a customs union agreement with the EU in effect since 1996. It has been one of the largest trade partners of the EU, with an export value of 66.7 billion euros and an import value of 78 billion euros in 2016 in goods alone. As for services, Turkish exports to the EU totaled 16.4 billion euros and imports of services stood at 12.2 billion euros, according to commission data.
Furthermore, Daily Sabah confirms that the claim by a Turkish newspaper that the European Commission mentioned the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ) as a terrorist organization in its report is not true. The report indicates that Ankara recognizes FETÖ as a terrorist group and holds it responsible for the failed coup attempt, something that all the political parties in the Turkish Parliament agree on.