The European Union's executive on Wednesday called on the bloc's governments to reopen stalled membership talks with Turkey despite this year's crackdown on protesters and open the door to tiny Albania.
The European Commission's much-awaited yearly enlargement report rebuked the Turkish government for its "uncompromising stance in the face of dissent" and use of "excessive force" by police in May and June, but urged the 28 EU states to give new impetus to ties with Turkey by resuming the talks.
The Commission report, which tracks whether EU aspirants meet the bloc's standards on democracy and rights, also urged EU governments to formally recognise Albania as a candidate for membership.
Turkey began accession talks with the EU as far back as 2005 but they have broken down because of its long-standing territorial dispute with Cyprus, a member of the bloc, as well as opposition from powers France and Germany.
After a three-year freeze, the bloc in June finally agreed to reopen the dialogue but only after a delay of several months because of Turkey's tough crackdown on anti-government protests.
Wednesday's report is expected to be put to EU European affairs ministers for a decision October 22.