EU laments poor progress by Turkey in membership efforts

Members of Turkish forces patrol the perimeter of a prison complex in Aliaga, Izmir province, western Turkey, where jailed US pastor Andrew Craig Brunson is appearing for his trial at a court inside the complex, Monday, April 16, 2018. Brunson, 50, a US evangelical pastor from North Carolina, was arrested in December 2016 for alleged links to both an outlawed Kurdish insurgent group and the network of the U.S.-based Muslim cleric who Turkey blames for masterminding a failed military coup that year. He has denied all allegations. The court adjourned trial until May 7, 2018 and ruled that Brunson remain in custody until then. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)

BRUSSELS - Turkey has failed to make progress and is even backsliding on bringing its laws into line with European Union standards as it seeks to join the bloc, the EU's executive arm said Tuesday.

The Turkish government responded by saying the EU had never been "objective, equal or fair" toward Turkey.

The European Commission, which monitors membership talks, said in a report that Ankara continues to crack down on opponents and the media and that "no progress has been achieved" in fighting corruption.

Brussels also called on Turkey to lift the state of emergency that was introduced after a 2016 coup attempt.

It said the "broad scale and collective nature, and the disproportionality of measures taken" by the Turkish government under the state of emergency, "such as widespread dismissals, arrests, and detentions," raised "serious concerns."

In Ankara, Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdag said the EU had welcomed as members countries that were economically and politically less developed than Turkey.

"They have displayed an approach that is not fair or equal," Bozdag said. "It is not Turkey that is moving away from the EU. It is the EU, which ... has not acted in an impartial manner."

He said: "Despite this, Turkey has not given up on its membership aim and does not intend to do so. If they are giving up (on Turkey's membership) then they should say so."

Turkey began EU membership talks in 2005, but the discussions have been at a standstill in recent years.

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