This page was archived on October 2020.



37 - Rule of law, democracy and human rights in Turkey

Grade: D+
Unity 2/5
Resources 1/5
Strategy 1/5
Impact 1/5
Total 5/20
Scorecard 2015: C- (7/20)
Scorecard 2014: C- (7/20)
Scorecard 2013: C- (7/20)
Scorecard 2012: C- (7/20)
Scorecard 2010/11: C- (7/20)

The EU muted its criticism of Turkey on democracy and human rights to win cooperation on the refugee crisis

The EU’s interest in Turkey’s democratic standards and human rights record appeared to wane as the transactional politics of dealing with the refugee crisis came to dominate EU–Turkey relations. This reduced interest coincided with a worsening of the situation in Turkey in terms of the rule of law, democracy, and human rights.

In January, an enquiry into a massive corruption case involving senior figures in government was suppressed. The government repeatedly placed bans on social media sites and clamped down on media freedom, with a number of high-profile journalists put on trial. Ankara adopted an “internal security law” that extends the power of security forces to suppress civil unrest.

The Commission’s progress report on Turkey highlighted diminishing freedoms of the press and assembly and of the independence of the judiciary. However, the declaration from the EU–Turkey summit in November made no mention of the Copenhagen criteria for accession to the EU or of civil and political rights, despite calling for a “re-energised” accession process.

Besides the shift in relations due to the refugee crisis, the AKP’s decisive victory in the second round of the Turkish elections in November further emboldened Erdoğan’s government. Draconian security measures were taken against Kurdish activists ahead of the second round of elections, including the detention of many figures affiliated with the Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP). The government’s renewed military campaign against the PKK served to bolster the nationalist vote.

The EUurged Turkey’s new government to restart the Kurdish peace process, following the end of the ceasefire in July, and prioritise the restoration of judicial independence and basic rights. The EU also endorsed the expansion of university education in Kurdish and the launch of Kurdish broadcasts for children.