A RATINGS agency has downgraded its outlook for Turkey from “stable” to “negative”.

Standard Ethics (SE) downgraded the country twice last year, and this latest move follows fears of risks “severely increasing” for Turks and non-Turks – in particular politicians, journalists, and members of the judiciary or educational system.

The company said the negative rating increases the likelihood of an ethical rating downgrade from E- to F within the next 12 months and that holding Turkish securities could be considered a controversial investment.

“For this reason, all entities with a Standard Ethics rating holding Republic of Turkey’s securities (as Government Bonds) may have in the future a ‘negative impact’ on their rating,” said SE. “Any downgrade to ‘F’ is accompanied by a Security Segregation Impact Notice (SSIN) describing type and weight of negative impact.”

This could be a serious blow for Turkey as it attempts to negotiate its way into the European Union.

Finland and Lithuania yesterday resisted German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s call to cease accession talks with Turkey.

Sven Mikser, Estonia’s top diplomat, told EU foreign ministers the European Commission was not expected to make an assessment until next year on “whether and to what extent” Turkey is meeting the criteria for EU membership.

Finland’s Timo Soini said: “We know that there are problems in Turkey when it comes to human rights, but I am not in favour of stopping negotiations.”