WASHINGTON, DC—The American Hellenic Institute (AHI) would like to share with its audience two recently released reports on Turkey: one issued by the European Commission and the second issued by Human Rights Watch.
Released annually, the European Commission’s Report presents Turkey’s progress in preparing for European Union membership in several issue areas, including: political and economic criteria, human rights and the protection of minorities, freedom of expression, freedom of thought, conscience and religion; transport policy, and regional issues and international obligations of which Cyprus and the peaceful settlement border disputes with Greece are included. The report was released November 9, 2016.
Key findings by the European Commission include the following:
- “Turkey has still not fulfilled its obligation to ensure full and nondiscriminatory implementation of the Additional Protocol to the Association Agreement and has not removed all obstacles to the free movement of goods, including restrictions on direct transport links with Cyprus.”
- There was no progress on the normalization of bilateral relations with the Republic of Cyprus.
- The threat of casus belli by Turkey toward Greece should Greece extend its territorial waters still stands.
- With regard to good neighborly relations and the peaceful settlement of disputes, the EU “has again expressed serious concern” and urged Turkey to avoid any kind threat or action directed at an EU Member State.
- The report noted that “Greece and Cyprus made formal complaints about repeated and increased violations of their territorial waters and airspace by Turkey, including flights over Greek islands” and “Greece continued to object to Turkey’s launch of a tender for offshore oil and gas exploration including part of the continental shelf off the Greek island of Castellorizo.”
- There has been “serious backsliding” in the past year in the area of freedom of expression.
- With regard to judiciary independence the report noted “backsliding” in the past year.
- “The Turkish legal framework includes general guarantees of respect for human and fundamental rights, which need to be further improved. The enforcement of rights stemming from the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) and the case-law of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) is not yet ensured.”
In December 2016, Human Rights Watch released “Silencing Turkey’s Media: The Government’s Deepening Assault on Critical Journalism.” It details the actions of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who by emergency decrees following the failed coup attempt of July 15, 2016, had shut down 140 media outlets and 29 publishing houses by December 2016, leaving more than 2,500 media workers and journalists unemployed. The report adds: “Arrest warrants have been issued for more than 100 journalists, and, according to P24, an independent journalism platform, 149 journalists and media workers now languish in Turkish jails – all but 18 of them in pretrial detention pending trial – making Turkey once again the world leader in locking up journalists.”
The report goes on to list five disturbing trends as they relate to the crackdown on freedom of press in Turkey.
The American Hellenic Institute is an independent non-profit Greek American public policy center that works to strengthen relations between the United States and Greece and Cyprus, and within the Greek American community.