Poor record in the field of human rights is, aside of some purely political concerns, a major factor of distrust between the EU and its candidate country Turkey and a reason for the reluctance of the former. In spring and summer of 2013, situation has seriously worsened, with the very status of Turkey as a relatively free and democratic country put in question. Mass civic protests in Istanbul and other big cities against the authoritarian ways of the ruling AKP party, triggered by a communal dispute over the planned removal of a park in Istanbul, lasted for several months, including hundreds of thousands people. To suppress the protests, the government used various means: excessive police force, arbitrary arrests, ill treatment and torture in custody (even though the courts later
acquitted the arrested), flaming rhetoric and hate speech, inciting confrontation between various parts of society, hardened nationalism, pressure on media and business community, reducing online freedom, etc. Even aside of that event, there are plenty of challenges. Freedom of association and gathering is anyway restricted. Worse to it, there is no consistency in application of the rules, which especially affects religious, ethnic or sexual minorities, but often also NGOs or trade unions. Although several legislative and institutional steps were taken to improve the protection of women against violence, domestic violence, honour killings or other crimes against women do not retreat, partly encouraged by traditionalist, anti-equality rhetoric of the highest government officials. Reproductive rights, not least to abortion but to any family planning, are little by little limited by various subtle measures by central or local authorities. Secular character of the state is every little while also in doubt, in spite of the official declarations. Respect for the official nationalist vision of history is mandatory for all intellectuals if going out to public. Possible “verbal offenses” are many. That hinders public debate and limits academic freedom, especially in sensitive issues such as the 1915 genocide against ethnic Armenians.