The European Union praised Ankara’s migration policy in its 2020 progress report on Turkey released on Tuesday.
The bloc, however, also expressed concerns over the rule of law and human rights issues in the country.
The report said Turkey made progress in the area of migration and asylum policy, remaining committed to the EU-Turkey migration deal of 2016 and playing “a key role in ensuring effective management of migratory flows along the Eastern Mediterranean route.”
“Turkey sustained its outstanding efforts to provide unprecedented humanitarian aid and support to more than 3.6 million registered refugees from Syria and around 370,000 registered refugees from other countries, thus hosting the largest refugee community in the world,” the report said.
However, the EU criticized Turkey’s decision in March to open its borders to asylum seekers seeking to reach Europe through Greece.
“Overall, the number of illegal border crossings between Turkey and Greece still remained significantly lower than prior to the adoption of the EU-Turkey Statement,” the report said.
Economy and policies
“Regarding the economic criteria, the Turkish economy is well advanced,” read the report.
The EU Commission, though, did express concern over the performance of economy over the reporting period.
“The government continued to further improve the regulatory environment for businesses,” the report said, but also pointed out that “the informal sector remains large.”
The report underlined that Turkey had increased expenditure on research and development, while also praising progress made in diversification of energy supplies.
“But reforms are needed to open up the natural gas market and increase competition on it,” it added.
Despite the praise for Ankara’s economic achievements, the report said that Turkey, which aims for EU membership, did not make progress in meeting European criteria on rule of law and human rights.
“Many of the measures introduced during the state of emergency remained in force and continued to have a profound and devastating impact,” it contended.
Acknowledging that the government has a legitimate right to fight terrorism, the report stressed that “it is also responsible for ensuring this is done in accordance with the rule of law, human rights and fundamental freedoms.”
On Turkey’s foreign policy, the report said Ankara’s recent moves collided with the priorities of the 27-member bloc, particularly citing the increased tensions in the Eastern Mediterranean.
Regarding the crisis in Libya, it said: “Turkey further significantly increased its military involvement in the conflict in Libya, contributing to a reversal of the situation on the ground.”
The report concluded: “Regarding its ability to assume the obligations of membership, Turkey has continued to align with the EU acquis, albeit at a very limited pace and in a fragmented manner.”
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