Leading article: A patronising and mistimed report

Share

The timing of the European Union's latest assessment of Turkey's application to join the EU could not have come at a worse time, just as Turkey is on the brink of war in Iraqi Kurdistan. But then the tone of the EU report could not have been more inappropriate either.

Much of what the officials of the Commission say in their annual review is reasonable enough. In the past two years, the Turkish government's progress on such issues as freedom of expression and minority rights has slowed. The notorious Article 301 of the Turkish penal code remains on the statute book and has been used persistently to silence critics of the army or those who would raise the thorny question of the massacre of the Armenians during the First World War. Turkey's refusal to normalise its relations with Cyprus also continues to be a major blocking stone.

Despite the re-election, by a substantial vote, of Recep Tayyip Erdogan's government, and the accession of a new president, both dedicated to domestic reform and membership of the European Union, the country remains haunted by the glowering presence of the army in the background and the resurgence of Kurdish terrorism in the foreground.

But it is precisely for those reasons that the EU's patronising schoolmaster's report is so misplaced. By any standards, Turkey's progress in reforming its economy, liberalising its laws, and beginning to move towards a better accommodation with its Kurdish minority has been truly remarkable, particularly since Mr Erdogan's election. The problem has been not so much with Turkish backsliding on reform. If there has been any of that, it is because of tensions between the government and the army and judiciary before Mr Erdogan's re-election earlier this year.

The Turkish Prime Minister needs our support at this difficult moment. The real problem has been that the EU itself has been backsliding in its enthusiasm for Turkish entry. Although it is formally still committed to the task, there has been increasing resistance from some members, notably France and Austria. Upbraiding Turkey for its pace of reform and its reluctance to abandon Northern Cyprus without a deal has become a means of kicking the whole question into the long grass.

That would be entirely wrong. Turkish entry to the EU is a development that could revolutionise Europe's relations with the Islamic world. It also provides a very real carrot with which to draw a democratic country such as Turkey along a course of increased liberalism. We should be using annual reports such as that published in Brussels yesterday to show our concerns for Turkey as a friend, not as a search for reasons to call off the marriage.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Senior Digital Marketing Executive

£35000 - £45000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based i...

Junior Web Developer- CSS, HMTL

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: A leading company within the healthcare ...

Learning Support Assistant

£65 - £70 per day: Randstad Education Cardiff: Due to the continual growth and...

AX Developer With EPOS Experience

£450 - £500 per day: Progressive Recruitment: Dynamics AX / Developer / AX2012...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Prime Minister David Cameron walks on stage to speak at The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) annual conference on November 4, 2013  

Does Cameron really believe in 'British Values'?

Temi Ogunye
The Lada became a symbol of Russia’s failure to keep up with Western economies  

Our sanctions will not cripple Russia. It is doing a lot of the dirty work itself

Hamish McRae
Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
Chris Pratt: From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

He was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star
How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

Broadcasting plays and exhibitions to cinemas is a sure-fire box office smash
Shipping container hotels: Pop-up hotels filling a niche

Pop-up hotels filling a niche

Spending the night in a shipping container doesn't sound appealing, but these mobile crash pads are popping up at the summer's biggest events
Native American headdresses are not fashion accessories

Feather dust-up

A Canadian festival has banned Native American headwear. Haven't we been here before?
Boris Johnson's war on diesel

Boris Johnson's war on diesel

11m cars here run on diesel. It's seen as a greener alternative to unleaded petrol. So why is London's mayor on a crusade against the black pump?
5 best waterproof cameras

Splash and flash: 5 best waterproof cameras

Don't let water stop you taking snaps with one of these machines that will take you from the sand to meters deep
Louis van Gaal interview: Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era

Louis van Gaal interview

Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era
Will Gore: The goodwill shown by fans towards Alastair Cook will evaporate rapidly if India win the series

Will Gore: Outside Edge

The goodwill shown by fans towards Alastair Cook will evaporate rapidly if India win the series
The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

The air strikes were tragically real

The children were playing in the street with toy guns
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

Britain as others see us

Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
How did our legends really begin?

How did our legends really begin?

Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

Lambrusco is back on the menu

Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz