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

Nursery Assistant/Nurse all cheshire areas

£7 per hour: Randstad Education Cheshire: We are a large and successful recrui...

Year 2 Teachers needed for day to day supply

£110 - £130 per day + Competitve rates of pay: Randstad Education Reading: Yea...

Digital Marketing Manager, Womens Fashion, London

£50-£60K Plus Benefits: Charter Selection: Highly successful leading women’s l...

Year 6 Teachers needed for day to day supply roles

£110 - £130 per day + Competitive rates of pay: Randstad Education Reading: Ye...

Day In a Page

Read Next
A group of primary school children learn about where babies come from  

Of course seven-year-olds should be taught ‘age appropriate’ sex education

Chloe Hamilton
Alex Salmond and Alistair Darling taking part in a live television debate in Glasgow on Monday  

Scottish independence: Do you realise just how foolish the UK looks?

Ian Hamilton
Kate Bush, Hammersmith Apollo music review: A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it

Kate Bush shows a voice untroubled by time

A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it
Robot sheepdog technology could be used to save people from burning buildings

The science of herding is cracked

Mathematical model would allow robots to be programmed to control crowds and save people from burning buildings
Tyrant: Is the world ready for a Middle Eastern 'Dallas'?

This tyrant doesn’t rule

It’s billed as a Middle Eastern ‘Dallas’, so why does Fox’s new drama have a white British star?
Rachael Lander interview: From strung out to playing strings

From strung out to playing strings

Award-winning cellist Rachael Lander’s career was almost destroyed by the alcohol she drank to fight stage fright. Now she’s playing with Elbow and Ellie Goulding
The science of saturated fat: A big fat surprise about nutrition?

A big fat surprise about nutrition?

The science linking saturated fats to heart disease and other health issues has never been sound. Nina Teicholz looks at how governments started advising incorrectly on diets
Emmys 2014 review: Can they genuinely compete with the Oscars

Can they genuinely compete with the Oscars?

The recent Emmy Awards are certainly glamorous, but they can't beat their movie cousins
On the road to nowhere: A Routemaster trip to remember

On the road to nowhere

A Routemaster trip to remember
Hotel India: Mumbai's Taj Mahal Palace leaves its darker days behind

Hotel India

Mumbai's Taj Mahal Palace leaves its darker days behind
10 best pencil cases

Back to school: 10 best pencil cases

Whether it’s their first day at school, uni or a new project, treat the student in your life to some smart stationery
Arsenal vs Besiktas Champions League qualifier: Gunners know battle with Turks is a season-defining fixture

Arsenal know battle with Besiktas is a season-defining fixture

Arsene Wenger admits his below-strength side will have to improve on last week’s show to pass tough test
Pete Jenson: Athletic Bilbao’s locals-only transfer policy shows success does not need to be bought

Pete Jenson: A Different League

Athletic Bilbao’s locals-only transfer policy shows success does not need to be bought
This guitar riff has been voted greatest of all time

The Greatest Guitar Riff of all time

Whole Lotta Votes from Radio 2 listeners
Britain’s superstar ballerina

Britain’s superstar ballerina

Alicia Markova danced... every night of the week and twice on Saturdays
Berlin's Furrie invasion

Berlin's Furrie invasion

2000 fans attended Eurofeurence
‘It was a tidal wave of terror’

‘It was a tidal wave of terror’

Driven to the edge by postpartum psychosis