Turkey: "They should reform the country for their citizens, not for us" 


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Ria Oomen-Ruijten 

Turkey is faced with the most critical progress report yet in its bid to join the European Union, due to recent allegations of fraud and massive corruption and concerns over the lack of a separation of powers. "Justice is the key issue," explained Ria Oomen-Ruijten, a Dutch member of the EPP group who wrote the report. "Turkey shouldn't do it for us. They should do it for the modernisation of the country. It's to the benefit of Turkish citizens." MEPs adopted her report on 12 March.

What is the state of play in the negotiations between Turkey and the EU?

Turkey used to be on a good path and then we had the events and the fraud allegations in 2013. It looks as if the separation of powers, which is of vital importance, is not there anymore. When a minister of justice can have the last say in an investigation, willingly or not, then there is something wrong.

We have also got new media legislation and the internet bill, which was changed, drifting away from the Copenhagen criteria.

Are these the biggest obstacles? What do you see among the biggest challenges coming up?

There are many challenges for Turkey, but justice is the key issue. Countries shouldn´t change for us - they should do it for the modernisation of the country. It´s to the benefit of Turkish citizens.

What has been the most positive progress being made in the past year?

At least on the Kurdish issue and on religion there are some steps forward. They are strengthening the southeast region by bringing peace, resulting in economic development. There was progress, but now there is a backlash that you saw in very critical speeches in Parliament.

How has the unrest in Turkey affected the negotiations?

If you have a commitment towards each other, before you start changing legislation, you should contact each other, to see if it's right or not. But that didn´t happen. Therefore I am asking for a new Turkish commitment.