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Europe

Croatia likely to join EU before Turkey

A good outlook for Croatia, more work ahead for Turkey: a leaked draft of the EU's annual report on enlargement shows what's in store for hopeful members. The official report is to be published next week.

EU flag with crescent

A leaked draft report shows Croatia is likely to beat Turkey into the European Union

Croatia is poised to enter the final stage of talks to enter the European Union, while Turkey and other EU hopefuls still need to implement reforms, curb crime and protect press freedom, according to a draft report by the EU executive board that was leaked to Reuters.

"Negotiations with Croatia have entered their final stage," the Commission said in the draft. "However, efforts must continue and further intensify, in particular in the field of judicial reform."

The report said that Zagreb must still demonstrate that it has adopted EU standards on the rule of law and tackling corruption, as well as improve cooperation with the United Nations war crimes tribunal for former Yugoslavia.

New constitution

Croatian and EU flags

Croatia must show cooperation with the UN war crimes tribunal

Meanwhile, Turkey, which has been in stalled entry talks since 2005, still needs to do more to strengthen its democratic process, the draft said. Ankara was praised for a recent referendum that added a battery of amendments to its constitution, including reducing the military influence on courts, but the report added that the nation's best bet to reanimate its bid would be to adopt a new constitution.

"A new civilian constitution would provide a solid base for a further strengthening of democracy in Turkey, in line with European standards and the EU accession criteria," the report said, calling the amendments passed in September's referendum "an important step in the right direction."

Turkey also earned praise for taking on an increasingly active role in foreign policy in the region.

Persisting problems

But the divisive issue of EU-member Cyprus, where Turkish troops still occupy the northern part of the island, continued to be a sticking point in Turkey's accession. The report said that while Turkey "has continued to express public support" for UN-run talks between Greek and Turkish Cypriots, "there has been no progress towards normalization of bilateral relations" with Cyprus.

Women's rights issues and the treatment of minorities were also mentioned as shortcomings.

The board's annual progress report on expansion policy is due to be published on November 9.

Author: Sarah Harman
Editor: Ben Knight

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