Magazine article Europe-East

Eu/turkey : Meps Want Ankara to Intensify Reform Efforts

Magazine article Europe-East

Eu/turkey : Meps Want Ankara to Intensify Reform Efforts

Article excerpt

The European Parliament's Foreign Affairs Committee adopted, on 21 April, a report on Turkey's progress in negotiations towards eventual EU accession, calling on the government in Ankara to step up the adoption and implementation of reforms, including in particular the reform of the Turkish constitution. Any "further delays will seriously affect the pace of negotiations," the own-initiative report, drawn up by Ria Oomen-Ruijten (EPP-ED, the Netherlands) warned.

The committee also urged the Turkish deputies to adopt "without delay" the amendment to the infamous Article 301 of the Penal Code, which is considered by the MEPs "as merely a first step towards a fundamental reform of this article as well as other articles" that undermine freedom of expression in Turkey.

Referring to the ongoing debate in Turkey on the separation of church and state, the report called on the government to respect pluralism and diversity when pursuing reforms. On the other hand, it urged the opposition parties to engage themselves constructively in seeking consensus on future steps aiming at the country's modernisation. Some of the reforms pushed forward by the Justice and Development Party-led government, such as the suspension of the ban on headscarves in public universities, are seen by Turkey's secular establishment, including the judiciary and the powerful military, as an attempt to gradually scrap a secular system established by Kemal Ataturk. In this context, the report strongly urges the judiciary and the military to refrain from interfering in the political process. …

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