MOSCOW (Sputnik) – Speaking in an interview with the Austrian public broadcaster ORF , Kern said that Turkey’s economy is not in line with EU standards and criticized the measures the Turkish government took after the failed coup attempt.
Last week, Turkish Agriculture Minister Faruk Celik told Sputnik that Ankara is disappointed over the ambiguous attitude of some EU member states to the attempted coup in Turkey.
Turkey signed an association agreement with the then-European Community in 1963, and submitted a membership application in 1987. Talks on Turkey’s EU membership began in 2005. The Cyprus dispute and Turkey's record of denying press freedom are among the major issues obstructing Turkey's accession to the bloc.
The botched July 15 coup attempt by sections of the Turkish military to remove President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government has resulted in the detention of thousands of senior and junior military officers who had been critical of the elected government. In addition, thousands of educators, judges and prosecutors have been removed from their positions.
Erdogan has long been suspicious of a "deep state" in Turkey composed of conspirators from the military, intelligence and judicial departments and has previously sought powers to uproot them, according to Turkish media reports. Erdogan ostensibly blames followers of Fethullah Gülen, an influential imam living in self-imposed exile in eastern Pennsylvania, for instigating the coup.
Historically, the Turkish military has tasked itself with protecting the secular identity of the state and the legacy of Turkey's reformist founder Kemal Ataturk, while Erdogan is seen by many as an Islamist who is actively attempting to centralize power. According to The New Yorker, "he has long been unpopular among cosmopolitan and non-religious Turks, but he has always enjoyed staunch support among the rural and religiously conservative."