Turkey still outside the EU comfort zone

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Turkey still outside the EU comfort zone

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The European Union is due to publish its annual report on enlargement, which will highlight key areas for improvement for those countries looking to join 27-nation bloc.

And, it seems Turkey still has some way to go if it is to gain the EU green light. Brussels is becoming concerned at the number of prosecutions against journalists: media freedom, key in any democracy, is getting worse in Turkey according to Reporters without Borders, which placed the country 138th out of 178 states worldwide.

The EU also wants Ankara to widen public debate on constitutional change essential if the Turks are to join the EU. The Commission once again criticised Turkey’s failure to comply with the Ankara Protocol, agreed in 2005, to open up its ports to Cyprus. The EU notes that there has been no progress in normalising relations with EU member Cyprus.

Among the other hopefuls, Croatia, in the final furlong of accession talks, is advised to step up its fight against corruption and improve cooperation with the UN war crimes tribunal in The Hague.

On the positive side, the EU praised the presidents of both Croatia and Serbia for their recent apologies for crimes committed during the Balkan Wars.

For the first time, Croatia’s Ivo Josipovic and Serbia’s Boris Tadic jointly visited the graves of victims of the 1991 Serbo-Croat war and condemned the violence.

The symbolic first step towards reconciliation will boost Serbia’s bid for membership but Brussels said Belgrade still needs to demonstrate a more constructive attitude towards Kosovo.