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      Report of the Commission on Turkey’s progress towards accession

Report of the Commission on Turkey’s progress towards accession   4/04/2004

EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT PRESS RELEASE
 
Arie OOSTLANDER (EPP-ED, NL). 
Report on the 2003 
regular report of the Commission on Turkey’s progress towards accession 
(COM(2003) 676 –
SEC(2003) 1212 – C5-0535/2003 – 2003/2204(INI)) 
Doc.: A5-0204/2004 
Procedure : Own-initiative report 
Vote : 01.04.2004

Turkey has made many important reforms since last year in order to meet the
Copenhagen political criteria for EU membership but still needs to
go considerably further and rigorously implement the reforms in many areas,
the European Parliament said in adopting a resolution by rapporteur Arie
OOSTLANDER (EPP-ED, NL) with 211 votes in favour, 84 against and 46
abstentions. Therefore absolute priority should be given to the political
criteria before starting negotiations on the adoption
of EU legislation. Also, the EU's capacity to absorb new Member States
should fully be taken into account.

MEPs praised the strong motivation and political will demonstrated by the
AKP government and by the great majority of the members of parliament in
favour of making reforms that are revolutionary for Turkey, but they said
that such reforms can only be judged on the basis of how they are put into
practice at all levels of the judicial and
security system and the civil and military administration.

MEPs criticised the continuing influence of the army in politics, business,
culture and education, continuing torture practices and mistreatment, the
intimidation of human rights defenders, the discrimination of religious
minorities and the fact that trade union freedom is not fully guaranteed.
MEPs also condemned the political
persecution of such political parties as HADEP and DEHAP. They were unhappy
with the way the trial reopened against Sakharov Prize winner Leyla Zana and
three other former DEP members of parliament was progressing and called for
an amnesty for them. The government should as soon as possible put a
proposal for the abolition of the state security courts before parliament
and take further steps to revise the role of the National Security Council.
The 10% threshold for obtaining seats in
parliament should be abolished in order to ensure a wider representation,
including predominantly Kurdish parties. Turkey should also speed up the
implementation of certain cultural rights that allow the education in and
use of languages other than Turkish in the media, especially Kurdish. The
Kurdish regions should be provided with the necessary means to stimulate
their socio-economic development.

MEPs called on Turkey to implement without delay outstanding decisions of
the European Court of Human Rights, including in the matter of
restoring property rights on Cyprus and to withdraw its forces from the
northern part of Cyprus. Settlement of the Cyprus conflict was an essential
condition for progress on Turkey's EU membership application. Turkey was
called upon to sign the International Criminal Court treaty.

The Commission should carry out a study of the impact of Turkey joining,
including the need to reform the agricultural and structural funds policies.
The EU should have a common security and defence policy with regard to
possible new EU external borders and it should do more to support Turkey in
the fight against terrorism.

In the end, MEPs said, it will be up to Turkey to decide whether it wants,
or will be able, to accept the political principles and values of the EU as
appropriate for Turkey's state and society.

Press enquiries:
Marjory van den Broeke
(Strasbourg) tel.(33-3) 881 72208
(Brussels)  tel.(32-2) 28 44304
e-mail :   foreign-press@europarl.eu.int


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