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The General Affairs Council of the European Union (EU) released its Conclusions on Enlargement and Stabilization and Association Process about six countries including Turkey yesterday (June 26).
In the document, where Turkey has been referred to as "a key partner", the importance of the cooperation with Western Balkans and Turkey in fight against terrorism has been emphasized.
"Irregular and dangerous crossings have decreased"
Referring to the EU-Turkey agreement on refugees signed on March 18, 2016, the General Affairs Council of the EU has stated,
"The Council commends Turkey's significant efforts in hosting and addressing the needs of more than 3.5 million refugees. The continued implementation of the EU-Turkey Statement, which reduces irregular and dangerous crossings and saves lives in the Aegean Sea, is in the interest of both sides and remains crucial."
Rule of law and fundamental rights
In the document, a series of criticisms have also been posed to Turkey. Regarding the current state of the rule of law and fundamental rights in Turkey, it has been indicated,
"The Council is especially concerned about the continuing and deeply worrying backsliding on the rule of law and on fundamental rights including the freedom of expression. The deterioration of the independence and functioning of the judiciary cannot be condoned, nor can the on-going restrictions, detentions, imprisonments, and other measures targeting journalists, academics, members of political parties including parliamentarians, human rights defenders, social media users and others exercising their fundamental rights and freedoms."
"Accession negotiations are at a standstill"
The General Affairs Council has noted that "Turkey has been moving further away from the EU" and added, "Turkey's accession negotiations have therefore effectively come to a standstill and no further chapters can be considered for opening or closing and no further work towards the modernisation of the EU-Turkey Customs Union is foreseen."
Ministry of Foreign Affairs: Hypocrisy, inconsistency
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Turkey has responded to the Conclusions released by the General Affairs Council of the EU with a written statement:
"The part of the report concerning Turkey reflects once again the prejudiced and unjust attitude of the EU towards our country.
"It has been seen once again that the EU has not been treating Turkey justly and honestly. Claiming that it is our country which is moving further away from the EU despite its attitude in question is hypocrisy and inconsistency." (PT/SD)