“Turkey taking giant strides away from the EU for some time”

President of the EU Commission Jean-Claude Juncker said Turkey has been taking giant strides away from the European Union for some time, and called for the release of all journalists.

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker came to Parliament today to review the year and announce new initiatives in a debate with MEPs.

The State of the European Union debate is an annual event that kicks off the new political season after the summer break. Jean-Claude Juncker, president of the European Commission, addressed Parliament to give an account of what the Commission has done in the past 12 months and also announce its plans for the coming year.

Juncker said it is clear that there will be no further enlargement during the mandate of this Commission and this Parliament, adding: “No candidate is ready yet. But thereafter the European Union will be greater than 27 in number. Accession candidates must give the rule of law, justice and fundamental rights utmost priority. This rules out EU membership for Turkey for the foreseeable future.”

Evaluating the developments taking place in Turkey, EU Commission President pointed out that Turkey has been taking giant strides away from the European Union for some time.

Concerning the increasingly ongoing imprisonment of journalists by the AKP regime, Juncker said; “Journalists belong in newsrooms not in prisons. They belong where freedom of expression reigns.”

“The call I make to those in power in Turkey is this: Let our journalists go. And not just them either. Stop insulting our Member States by comparing their leaders to fascists and Nazis. Europe is a continent of mature democracies. Insults create roadblocks. Sometimes I get the feeling Turkey is intentionally placing these roadblocks so that it can blame Europe for any breakdown in accession talks.”

Juncker said that they “will always keep our hands stretched out towards the great Turkish people and those who are ready to work with us on the basis of our values”.