Constitutional reform must be top priority for Turkey, say MEPs
Foreign affairs MEPs express deep concern at the recent developments in Turkey concerning allegations of high-level corruption and stress that constitutional reform must remain the top priority for the modernisation and democratisation of Turkey, in a resolution passed on Monday on Turkey's progress in 2013 towards EU accession.
The resolution regrets the removal of the prosecutors and police officers in charge of the original corruption investigations and calls on the authorities to ensure the proper functioning of the Court of Auditors, stressing the vital importance of an independent judiciary and the separation of powers, MEPs underline Turkey's importance as a strategic partner of the European Unionand are concerned at the lack of progress with constitutional reform, particularly the suspension of the work of the Turkish Parliament's conciliation committee on constitutional amendments.
They stress the importance of close dialogue and cooperation between the EU and Turkey on the reform process so that the negotiations can continue to provide Turkey with a clear reference and credible benchmarks. They want the Council to make efforts towards opening negotiating chapters 23 and 24, on judiciary and fundamental rights and on justice and home affairs.
Restriction of freedoms
The committee states its deep concern at the new internet laws, which introduce excessive controls and monitoring of internet access, and the new judiciary laws, which could lead Turkey away from meeting the Copenhagen criteria for EU accession. It also calls on the authorities to deal with public protests in a more restrained way and to provide a legal framework for the restoration of the property rights of all religious communities.
Kurdish issue and Cyprus reunification
In the resolution, MEPs encourage the Turkish authorities to make the reforms needed to promote the social, cultural and economic rights of the Kurdish community, including through education in Kurdish public schools. They also welcome the joint declaration by the leaders of the two communities on re-launching the talks on the reunification of Cyprus, stressing the importance of reunification.
3 March 2014
Committee on Foreign Affairs
In the chair: Elmar Brok (EPP, DE)