BRUSSELS (AFP) - The EU's executive on Wednesday urged the bloc's governments to reopen stalled membership talks with Turkey despite this year's crackdown on protesters as well as open the door to Albania.
Releasing its much-awaited yearly enlargement report, the European Commission rebuked Ankara for an "uncompromising stance in the face of dissent" and "excessive force" by police against protesters.
But it urged the 28 EU states to confirm their willingness to give new impetus to ties with Turkey by resuming the talks.
The commission also praised Turkey for key reforms over the past year, including major judicial reforms and the start of a peace process with Kurdish groups to end conflict in its south-east.
However, the Turkish minister responsible for relations with the European Union, said the bloc was "moving away from Turkey day by day", according to comments reported by the Anatolia news agency.
Egemen Bagis said his country was "ready to join" the EU but had become fatigued by drawn-out accession negotiations which began in 2005, meaning that "interest shown by the Turks for membership decreases each day".
He also criticised the Commission for publishing the report during the Muslim festival of Eid al-Adha.
The yearly Commission report tracks whether EU aspirants meet the bloc's standards on democracy and rights.