In warn­ing to Ankara, EU cuts funds for Turkey’s mem­ber­ship bid

Weekend Mirror - - CHILDREN’S CORNER -

BRUS­SELS

(Reuters) - The Euro­pean Union is set to cut up to 175 mil­lion eu­ros for Turkey in 2018 that are linked to Ankara’s stalled bid to join the bloc and could block some 3.5 bil­lion eu­ros in devel­op­ment loans ear­marked for the coun­try, law­mak­ers and diplo­mats said.

In a sym­bolic stand against de­te­ri­o­rat­ing hu­man rights in Turkey, the 2018 cuts are likely to be the start of a longer-term re­duc­tion of pre-ac­ces­sion aid that is meant to help EU can­di­date coun­tries pre­pare for mem­ber­ship.

“As long as Turkey is not re­spect­ing free­dom of speech, hu­man rights, and is drift­ing fur­ther away from Euro­pean demo­cratic standards, we can­not fi­nance such a regime with EU funds,” said Siegfried Mure­san, the Euro­pean Par­lia­ment’s chief bud­get ne­go­tia­tor.

Two EU diplo­mats said EU gov­ern­ments had agreed with the Euro­pean Par­lia­ment this week to with­draw 105 mil­lion eu­ros that would have gone to help fi­nance po­lit­i­cal re­forms in Turkey, as well as hold­ing back an­other 70 mil­lion eu­ros.

Ankara can still ac­cess the 70 mil­lion eu­ros if it im­proves its rights record, Mure­san said.

Sig­nal­ing the slow col­lapse of Turkey’s decades-long at­tempt to join the Euro­pean Union, the cuts are deeper than an ini­tial pro­posal to re­duce funds by 80 mil­lion eu­ros next year.

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