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EU Report Criticizes Turkey Over Human Rights, Rule Of Law

The European Union's has accused Turkey of backsliding on the rule of law, human rights, and press freedom in its latest report about progress by countries seeking to join the bloc.

The November 10 report, which Brussels held back until after Turkey's November 1 elections, praised Ankara for housing Syrian refugees and for cooperating on the the migrant crisis.

But it criticizes Turkey's government for what it said were curtailments on freedom of expression and for undermining the independence of Turkey's judiciary.

The report is part of an annual package on progress by countries aspiring to join the EU.

Turkey has been seeking EU membership since 1987, but the negotiations have frequently ground to a halt -- mostly because of opposition from France and Germany and Turkey's tensions with EU-member Cyprus.

The other EU membership hopefuls for which the commission issued progress reports on November 10 are Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro, and Serbia.

But European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker has said that he does not expect any new countries to join the bloc before 2019.

Based on reporting by dpa and AFP