Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey's prime minster, has been criticised for dragging his feet on reforms.
Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey's prime minster, has been criticised for dragging his feet on reforms.

EU's patience with Turkey wears thin



ISTANBUL // The European Union has called for more political reforms in the candidate country Turkey, but despite signs that patience with the Turks is wearing thin in Brussels, European as well as Turkish observers wonder if Ankara is in the mood to listen to the EU.

"Looking back at the developments in Turkey in the last year, I wonder whether the Turkish government is still willing to continue with the reform process," Ria Oomen-Ruijten, the European Parliament's rapporteur on Turkey, said in a statement after the EU Commission released a major report on the state of affairs in Ankara this week. "Impatience in the European Parliament is growing. We need a clear signal from Turkey that it wishes to continue with the integration process to which it committed itself in 2005" when membership negotiations started, said Ms Oomen-Ruijten, a Dutch member of the European Parliament.

In its so-called progress report, the EU Commission criticised the government of Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the prime minister, for stalling on the reform front even after it received the backing of almost 47 per cent of voters in last year's general election. "Despite its strong political mandate, the government did not put forward a consistent and comprehensive programme of political reforms," the EU said. An increase of reported cases of torture and ill-treatment is a "matter of concern", the report added.

"Progress on reforms was limited," the EU said in a statement coinciding with the publication of the report. The Erdogan government has spent much of its time since last year's election trying to push through an end to the ban on the Islamic headscarf at universities and fighting a court case that sought to shut down Mr Erdogan's ruling party. But that should not be an excuse for slowing down the reform process, the EU said.

"Now that Turkey has averted a political crisis linked to the Constitutional Court case against the governing party, it needs to reinvigorate the process of political reform," the statement said. "The lack of dialogue and a spirit of compromise between the main political parties had a negative impact on the functioning of the political institutions and on political reforms." Touching upon another sensitive subject, the European Union said in its report that Turkey's military continued to meddle in politics although European rules call for generals to keep out of non-military affairs.

"The armed forces have continued to exercise significant political influence via formal and informal mechanisms," the report said. "Senior members of the armed forces have expressed their opinion on domestic and foreign policy issues going beyond their remit, including on Cyprus, the south-east, secularism, political parties and other non-military developments." The European Commission, the executive body of the EU's 27 member nations, issues progress reports for all candidate countries in the autumn of every year, listing successes and failings on the way to membership, which is tied to political and economic criteria.

As a candidate wanting to join the EU, Turkey is required to take over tens of thousands of pages of EU legislation into its own laws and implement European rules that cover everything from hygienic standards in food production to the right of a citizen to criticise the government. Ankara has not made much progress since membership talks started in 2005. Despite three years of negotiations, Turkey has been able to open talks in only eight out of 33 chapters that have to be worked through.

Echoing Ms Oomen-Ruijten's pessimistic assessment, some analysts in Turkey think Brussels can do little to speed things up because the government in Ankara has come to the conclusion that the country is doing fine. "The European Commission has lost all leverage on Turkey," said Cengiz Aktar, a political scientist at Istanbul's Bahcesehir University. As Brussels glossed over a lack of reforms instead of putting pressure on Turkey in recent years, Ankara had felt free to pursue other issues, he said. There have been some promises of reform, such as a new television channel for the Kurdish minority, but few concrete actions.

Mr Erdogan's government denies it has put political reforms on the back burner, but even Abdullah Gul, the president, a former member of Mr Erdogan's governing party and a personal friend of the prime minister, has publicly demanded that political reforms be stepped up. The lack of any serious reform push by Ankara since 2005 has led officials and observers at the EU headquarters in Brussels to think that the Turkish government was never serious about membership in the first place, a commentary in the pro-government newspaper Zaman said. "The number of those who think that Erdogan never believed in the EU process, that he never internalised it and that he sees it merely as a means to an end is growing."

Mr Aktar agreed. "The Erdogan government is not interested in the EU matter at all," he said. "They don't understand the importance of the EU for Turkey. They think that Turkey doesn't need the EU." But if Mr Erdogan's government is accused of dragging its feet by some, others think it is doing too much already to fulfil the EU's every demand. Oktay Eksi, a top columnist of the Hurriyet newspaper, criticised the EU's call for more rights for Turkey's estimated 12 million Kurds.

"What is the aim of the EU in creating new minorities in Turkey?" Eksi said. He said the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne, which became the international birth certificate of modern Turkey, said that only Greeks, Armenians and Jews were minorities in Turkey and accused the EU of inciting separatist feelings among different ethnic and religious groups. "Nobody asks them, 'Is that really your business?'" Eksi wrote.

Turkey would have to obey the EU's rules to become a member, he admitted. "But there is no reason to be so stupid or so weak to say yes if EU authorities get up and want us to accept 'club rules' that reflect their own whims." tseibert@thenational.ae

The specs

Engine: 2.0-litre 4cyl turbo
Power: 261hp at 5,500rpm
Torque: 400Nm at 1,750-4,000rpm
Transmission: 7-speed dual-clutch auto
Fuel consumption: 10.5L/100km
On sale: Now
Price: From Dh129,999 (VX Luxury); from Dh149,999 (VX Black Gold)

A QUIET PLACE

Starring: Lupita Nyong'o, Joseph Quinn, Djimon Hounsou

Director: Michael Sarnoski

Rating: 4/5

The bio

Favourite book: Kane and Abel by Jeffrey Archer

Favourite quote: “The world makes way for the man who knows where he is going.” - Ralph Waldo Emerson, American essayist

Favourite Authors: Arab poet Abu At-Tayyib Al-Mutanabbi

Favourite Emirati food: Luqaimat, a deep-fried dough soaked in date syrup

Hobbies: Reading and drawing

Student Of The Year 2

Director: Punit Malhotra

Stars: Tiger Shroff, Tara Sutaria, Ananya Pandey, Aditya Seal 

1.5 stars

Fresh faces in UAE side

Khalifa Mubarak (24) An accomplished centre-back, the Al Nasr defender’s progress has been hampered in the past by injury. With not many options in central defence, he would bolster what can be a problem area.

Ali Salmeen (22) Has been superb at the heart of Al Wasl’s midfield these past two seasons, with the Dubai club flourishing under manager Rodolfo Arrubarrena. Would add workrate and composure to the centre of the park.

Mohammed Jamal (23) Enjoyed a stellar 2016/17 Arabian Gulf League campaign, proving integral to Al Jazira as the capital club sealed the championship for only a second time. A tenacious and disciplined central midfielder.

Khalfan Mubarak (22) One of the most exciting players in the UAE, the Al Jazira playmaker has been likened in style to Omar Abdulrahman. Has minimal international experience already, but there should be much more to come.

Jassim Yaqoub (20) Another incredibly exciting prospect, the Al Nasr winger is becoming a regular contributor at club level. Pacey, direct and with an eye for goal, he would provide the team’s attack an extra dimension.

Zakat definitions

Zakat: an Arabic word meaning ‘to cleanse’ or ‘purification’.

Nisab: the minimum amount that a Muslim must have before being obliged to pay zakat. Traditionally, the nisab threshold was 87.48 grams of gold, or 612.36 grams of silver. The monetary value of the nisab therefore varies by current prices and currencies.

Zakat Al Mal: the ‘cleansing’ of wealth, as one of the five pillars of Islam; a spiritual duty for all Muslims meeting the ‘nisab’ wealth criteria in a lunar year, to pay 2.5 per cent of their wealth in alms to the deserving and needy.

Zakat Al Fitr: a donation to charity given during Ramadan, before Eid Al Fitr, in the form of food. Every adult Muslim who possesses food in excess of the needs of themselves and their family must pay two qadahs (an old measure just over 2 kilograms) of flour, wheat, barley or rice from each person in a household, as a minimum.

The specs

Engine: 6.2-litre V8

Transmission: ten-speed

Power: 420bhp

Torque: 624Nm

Price: Dh325,125

On sale: Now

SPECS

Engine: 1.5-litre turbo

Power: 181hp

Torque: 230Nm

Transmission: 6-speed automatic

Starting price: Dh79,000

On sale: Now

Notable groups (UAE time)

Jordan Spieth, Si Woo Kim, Henrik Stenson (12.47pm)

Justin Thomas, Justin Rose, Louis Oosthuizen (12.58pm)

Hideki Matsuyama, Brooks Koepka, Tommy Fleetwood (1.09pm)

Sergio Garcia, Jason Day, Zach Johnson (4.04pm)

Rickie Fowler, Paul Casey, Adam Scott (4.26pm)

Dustin Johnson, Charl Schwartzel, Rory McIlroy (5.48pm)

You Were Never Really Here

Director: Lynne Ramsay

Starring: Joaquim Phoenix, Ekaterina Samsonov

Four stars

Results:

Women:

1. Rhiannan Iffland (AUS) 322.95 points
2. Lysanne Richard (CAN) 285.75
3. Ellie Smart (USA) 277.70

Men:

1. Gary Hunt (GBR) 431.55
2. Constantin Popovici (ROU) 424.65
3. Oleksiy Prygorov (UKR) 392.30

the pledge

I pledge to uphold the duty of tolerance

I pledge to take a first stand against hate and injustice

I pledge to respect and accept people whose abilities, beliefs and culture are different from my own

I pledge to wish for others what I wish for myself

I pledge to live in harmony with my community

I pledge to always be open to dialogue and forgiveness

I pledge to do my part to create peace for all

I pledge to exercise benevolence and choose kindness in all my dealings with my community

I pledge to always stand up for these values: Zayed's values for tolerance and human fraternity

ROUTE TO TITLE

Round 1: Beat Leolia Jeanjean 6-1, 6-2
Round 2: Beat Naomi Osaka 7-6, 1-6, 7-5
Round 3: Beat Marie Bouzkova 6-4, 6-2
Round 4: Beat Anastasia Potapova 6-0, 6-0
Quarter-final: Beat Marketa Vondrousova 6-0, 6-2
Semi-final: Beat Coco Gauff 6-2, 6-4
Final: Beat Jasmine Paolini 6-2, 6-2

Company profile

Company name: Hayvn
Started: 2018
Founders: Christopher Flinos, Ahmed Ismail
Based: Abu Dhabi, UAE
Sector: financial
Initial investment: undisclosed
Size: 44 employees
Investment stage: series B in the second half of 2023
Investors: Hilbert Capital, Red Acre Ventures

JOKE'S ON YOU

Google wasn't new to busting out April Fool's jokes: before the Gmail "prank", it tricked users with mind-reading MentalPlex responses and said well-fed pigeons were running its search engine operations .

In subsequent years, they announced home internet services through your toilet with its "patented GFlush system", made us believe the Moon's surface was made of cheese and unveiled a dating service in which they called founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page "Stanford PhD wannabes ".

But Gmail was all too real, purportedly inspired by one – a single – Google user complaining about the "poor quality of existing email services" and born "millions of M&Ms later".

UAE athletes heading to Paris 2024

Equestrian
Abdullah Humaid Al Muhairi, Abdullah Al Marri, Omar Al Marzooqi, Salem Al Suwaidi, and Ali Al Karbi (four to be selected).


Judo
Men: Narmandakh Bayanmunkh (66kg), Nugzari Tatalashvili (81kg), Aram Grigorian (90kg), Dzhafar Kostoev (100kg), Magomedomar Magomedomarov (+100kg); women's Khorloodoi Bishrelt (52kg).


Cycling
Safia Al Sayegh (women's road race).

Swimming
Men: Yousef Rashid Al Matroushi (100m freestyle); women: Maha Abdullah Al Shehi (200m freestyle).

Athletics
Maryam Mohammed Al Farsi (women's 100 metres).

Company Profile

Company name: Cargoz
Date started: January 2022
Founders: Premlal Pullisserry and Lijo Antony
Based: Dubai
Number of staff: 30
Investment stage: Seed

The Emperor and the Elephant

Author: Sam Ottewill-Soulsby

Publisher: Princeton University Press

Pages: 392

Available: July 11

The Bio

Hometown: Bogota, Colombia
Favourite place to relax in UAE: the desert around Al Mleiha in Sharjah or the eastern mangroves in Abu Dhabi
The one book everyone should read: 100 Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. It will make your mind fly
Favourite documentary: Chasing Coral by Jeff Orlowski. It's a good reality check about one of the most valued ecosystems for humanity

COMPANY PROFILE

Name: Haltia.ai
Started: 2023
Co-founders: Arto Bendiken and Talal Thabet
Based: Dubai, UAE
Industry: AI
Number of employees: 41
Funding: About $1.7 million
Investors: Self, family and friends

Company Profile

Company name: Namara
Started: June 2022
Founder: Mohammed Alnamara
Based: Dubai
Sector: Microfinance
Current number of staff: 16
Investment stage: Series A
Investors: Family offices

How to register as a donor

1) Organ donors can register on the Hayat app, run by the Ministry of Health and Prevention

2) There are about 11,000 patients in the country in need of organ transplants

3) People must be over 21. Emiratis and residents can register. 

4) The campaign uses the hashtag  #donate_hope

Our legal consultant

Name: Dr Hassan Mohsen Elhais

Position: legal consultant with Al Rowaad Advocates and Legal Consultants.

if you go

The flights

Air Astana flies direct from Dubai to Almaty from Dh2,440 per person return, and to Astana (via Almaty) from Dh2,930 return, both including taxes.

The hotels

Rooms at the Ritz-Carlton Almaty cost from Dh1,944 per night including taxes; and in Astana the new Ritz-Carlton Astana (www.marriott) costs from Dh1,325; alternatively, the new St Regis Astana costs from Dh1,458 per night including taxes.

When to visit

March-May and September-November

Visas

Citizens of many countries, including the UAE do not need a visa to enter Kazakhstan for up to 30 days. Contact the nearest Kazakhstan embassy or consulate.


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