Christoph Strässer, Human Rights Commissioner for EU-member Germany, on Tuesday stated [text, German] that Turkey should not receive a “discount” on meeting human rights criteria to join the EU [official website]. Strässer condemned [RT report] Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan, stating that the human rights situation in the nation has deteriorated under his administration. The criticism comes after the EU extended a more than three billion dollar package [BBC report] to Turkey to aid in the country’s substantial migration crisis. Supplementing the financial aid is the renewed deliberation of Turkey’s bid to join the EU. The German commissioner stressed that Turkey should not be given slack in meeting the EU’s rigid requirements for membership, and that Turkey still has a long way to go before it could belong in the organization. Specifically, Strässer warned of human rights violations in Erdogan’s actions towards the press and those citizens with dissenting political views.
Experiencing criticism [JURIST report] of its handling of the current migration influx into Europe, the EU has taken a renewed interest in Turkey’s ability to conform to human rights standards. In November the EU released a report [press release] criticizing Turkey for human rights and governmental issues [JURIST report] which they said have not been addressed through new reforms. The report discussed how issues such as the refugee crisis and oppression of journalists could be cured by adopting reforms that mirror the standards set by surrounding EU nations. The report stated that “[c]ore issues of the rule of law, fundamental rights, strengthening democratic institutions, including public administration reform, as well as economic development and competitiveness remain key priorities.” The EU commission believes if Turkey made significant changes to fight human rights issues they may have the political and economic stature to join the EU as a member state. Government officials from Turkey have claimed[BBC report] that the EU findings were unfair and had rejected the report.