Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has arrived in Brussels for talks on Turkey’s EU membership bid, amid EU concerns over a purge of senior Turkish officials.
The negotiations are beset by problems.
EU politicians have voiced concern about the state of Turkey’s democracy, including the independence of its courts and media freedom.
Several of Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s allies have been arrested over a corruption scandal. He blamed a “foreign plot” and sacked prosecutors and police chiefs.
The scandal has pitted Recep Tayyip Erdogan against a former ally, US-based Islamic scholar Fethullah Gulen, who has many supporters in the police and judiciary.
Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s trip to Brussels is his first in five years.
He will meet European Council President Herman Van Rompuy, who chairs EU summits, and EU Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso.
Turkey’s accession talks resumed in November, after being suspended for nearly three-and-a-half years. The negotiations were launched in 2005.
However, several EU countries, notably Germany, France and Austria, have deep reservations about Turkey joining the EU. Critics believe it is culturally far-removed from Europe, and that because of its sheer size it could change the nature of the EU.
Supporters say it would be a dynamic addition to the bloc.
There are 35 policy areas, or chapters, in which candidate-states must meet EU standards in order to join the 28-member bloc. So far Turkey and the EU have only opened 14 chapters, and just one has been provisionally closed.
Eight chapters remain frozen because of a long-running trade dispute between Turkey and Cyprus.
The EU’s 2013 progress report on Turkey criticized “excessive force” used by police against demonstrators, along with other human rights violations.
Last week Turkey adopted a law making it a crime for doctors to provide emergency first aid without government authorization.
Some medical professionals see it as a tool to prevent doctors and other medics from treating protesters injured in clashes with police. The US-based Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) says action was taken against medics during anti-government protests last June.
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