(MENAFN - Kuwait News Agency (KUNA)) BRUSSELS, May 29 (KUNA) -- The European Union (EU) Wednesday said Turkey continues to "move further away from the European Union, with serious backsliding in the areas of the rule of law and fundamental rights."
This position was expressed by the European Commission in its annual 2019 assessment report of the implementation of reforms in the Western Balkan countries and Turkey, together with recommendations on the next steps for those countries.
The report notes that Turkey's "accession negotiations have therefore effectively come to a standstill and no further chapters can be considered for opening or closing."
An EU candidate country has to fulfil 35 policy areas or chapters to comply with EU rules and regulations before it can join the bloc. Turkey opened membership talks with EU in 2005 but very little progress has been made on Ankara's aspirations to join the European bloc.
The report said that many human rights' defenders, civil society activists, media, academics, politicians, doctors, lawyers and judges are still detained in Turkey, and are facing smear campaigns by the media and senior politicians.
The report, however, also underlines that "Turkey is a key partner for the EU and a candidate country. 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."
The report says that it is now for the EU member states to consider the recommendations of the European Commission and take decisions on the steps ahead on Turkey.
Kati Piri, European Parliament rapporteur on Turkey, in a separate statement said, "The European Parliament's position on the accession process is clear. It makes no sense to continue talks with this government; however, the EU must stand in solidarity with Turkey's population."
Elsewhere, the European Commission report notes that Albania and North Macedonia have delivered on reforms and recommends that the EU should open membership negotiations with the two Balkan countries.
EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Federica Mogherini, presenting the report in a press conference said, "the Western Balkans are Europe and will be part of the EU's future, of a stronger, stable and united European Union.
"The past year has been a year of positive change, across the region. Albania and North Macedonia have shown a strong determination to advance on the EU path and achieved results that are concrete and must be irreversible," she said.
On his part, Johannes Hahn, EU Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations told the joint press conference "North Macedonia not only continued its ambitious reform agenda, but also reached a historic agreement with Greece, resolving a 27-year old name dispute, an example for the entire region and beyond.
"Albania is pursuing profound reforms, in particular a major transformation of its justice system. All these efforts are testimony to the power of attraction of the European Union," he added.
The EU's executive body also issued today its opinion on Bosnia-Herzegovina's application for membership of the EU, saying that negotiations for accession should be opened once Bosnia and Herzegovina has achieved the necessary degree of compliance with the EU membership criteria. (end)