Kaymakcı vs. European Commission
Turkey does not want to move away from the European Union, but wants to resume accession talks, Deputy Foreign Minister Faruk Kaymakcı said on May 29, criticizing the EUCommission’s 2019 country report for Turkey. Hurriyet Daily News reports in its article Turkey rejects ‘EU’s unjust criticism’ that Kaymakcı told reporters that "in the report, there are some unacceptable expressions suggesting that Turkey is moving away from EU values. Turkey stands in a place safe and sound. Turkey is part of Europe.”
“Turkey is claiming the [accession] process despite obstacles. There are also some circles trying to move the EU away from Europe values. There are some circles trying to move EUfrom candidate Turkey,” Kaymakcı said.
In the annual assessments and recommendations part for Turkey, the EU said: “Dialogue and cooperation, including at highest level, in essential areas of joint interest, have continued, including through effective cooperation on migration and support to refugees.”
However, the EU noted that Turkey “has continued to move further away from the European Union, with serious backsliding in the areas of the rule of law and fundamental rights and through the weakening of effective checks and balances in the political system, brought forward by the entry into force of the constitutional amendment.”
Replying to this, Kaymakcı said Turkey does not want to move away from the EU but wants to resume accession talks. “Of course, we will note consistent and reasonable criticisms on Turkey in the report. However, we cannot accept unfair and disproportionate criticisms in the report,” he said.
The report reflects the EU’s “own existential crisis,” according to the diplomat. The report on Turkey underscored “further serious backsliding” on human rights, judicial independence, and stable economic policy. Kaymakcı welcomed the EU report for referring to other countries just as “candidate countries” but Turkey as a strategic partner and regional actor besides as a candidate country.
The Turkish diplomat also welcomed the EU report for acknowledging the PKK as terrorist organizations, while expressing criticism that the report refers to FETÖ as the “Gülen movement,” not a terrorist group.
The commission criticized the government for its post-state of emergency practices. “Many human rights defenders, civil society activists, media, academics, politicians, doctors, lawyers, judges and lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex [LGBTI] people, are still detained – sometimes without indictment, and are facing smear campaigns by the media and senior politicians,” the report said.
Kaymakcı also criticized the EU because the report did not sufficiently cite the “political reform process” which Turkey had launched after the state emergency ended. The presidential system, including the abolition of the Prime Ministry and other functions such as the undersecretaries in ministries, has led to greater politicization of public administrations, said the report.
The EU criticized the Supreme Election Council’s (YSK) decision to renew the Istanbul municipal elections and to revoke the credentials of four elected mayors and members of municipal councils to assume office in southeastern provinces in Turkey, even though their candidacies had been validated before the elections.
“The decisions by the Supreme Election Council to re-run elections in Istanbul as well as to grant the mayorship of individual municipalities in the south-east to second-placed candidates are a source of serious concern regarding the respect of the legality and integrity of the electoral process and the institution’s independence from political pressure. They go against the core aim of a democratic electoral process – that is to ensure that the will of the people prevails,” said the report.
The EU expressed concerns on the government’s response to the backslide in the economy. “The Turkish authorities took a range of policy actions that have negatively influenced the functioning of markets, more importantly, by interfering with price formation and introducing constraints on the free use of the foreign exchange. Concerns regarding the independence of key economic institutions have deepened,” said the report.