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Procedure : 2007/2269(INI)
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Document selected : A6-0168/2008

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PV 21/05/2008 - 4
CRE 21/05/2008 - 4

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PV 21/05/2008 - 5.13
CRE 21/05/2008 - 5.13
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Texts adopted
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Wednesday, 21 May 2008 - Strasbourg
Turkey's 2007 progress report

European Parliament resolution of 21 May 2008 on Turkey's 2007 progress report (2007/2269(INI))

The European Parliament,

–   having regard to the Turkey 2007 Progress Report of the Commission (SEC(2007)1436),

–   having regard to its previous resolutions of 27 September 2006 on Turkey's progress towards accession(1) and of 24 October 2007 on EU-Turkey relations(2),

–   having regard to its resolutions of 6 July 2005(3) and of 13 February 2007(4) on women's role in social, economic and political life in Turkey,

–   having regard to the Negotiating Framework for Turkey of 3 October 2005,

–   having regard to Council Decision 2008/157/EC of 18 February 2008 on the principles, priorities and conditions contained in the Accession Partnership with the Republic of Turkey(5) ("the Accession Partnership"), as well as to the previous Council decisions on the Accession Partnership of 2001, 2003 and 2006,

–   having regard to Rule 45 of its Rules of Procedure,

–   having regard to the report of the Committee on Foreign Affairs and the opinion of the Committee on Women's Rights and Gender Equality (A6-0168/2008),

A.   whereas accession negotiations with Turkey were opened on 3 October 2005 after approval by the Council of the Negotiating Framework, and whereas the opening of those negotiations is the starting-point for a long-lasting and open-ended process,

B.   whereas Turkey has committed itself to reforms, good neighbourly relations and progressive alignment with the EU, and whereas these efforts should be viewed as an opportunity for Turkey itself to further modernise,

C.   whereas full compliance with all the Copenhagen criteria and EU integration capacity, in accordance with the conclusions of the December 2006 European Council meeting, remain the basis for accession to the EU, which is a community based on shared values,

D.   whereas the Commission concluded in its 2007 Progress Report that limited progress was achieved on political reforms in 2007 in Turkey,

E.   whereas in 2007 Turkey's democracy was strengthened, a new parliament was elected which is representative of the country's political diversity, and a government was formed which is equipped with a strong mandate,

F.   whereas Turkey has still not implemented the provisions stemming from the EC-Turkey Association Agreement and the Additional Protocol thereto,

G.   whereas five negotiating chapters were opened in 2007,

Reforms towards a democratic and prosperous society

1.  Welcomes the commitment of Prime Minister Erdogan that 2008 is going to be the year of reforms; urges the Turkish government to fulfil its promises by making use of its strong parliamentary majority to resolutely pursue reforms that are crucial for Turkey's transformation into a modern and prosperous democracy based on a secular state and a pluralistic society;

2.  Stresses that such modernisation is first and foremost in Turkey's own interest; acknowledges also the strategic importance for the EU of a stable, democratic and prosperous Turkey; reiterates that fulfilment of the commitments set out in the Accession Partnership is vital for Turkey and its future relations with the EU;

3.  Underlines its belief that only a society which is guided by respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms and which is based on democracy, the rule of law and a socially oriented market economy can develop into a peaceful, stable and prosperous society;

4.  Underlines the importance for Turkey of combating all forms of discrimination in line with Article 13 of the EC Treaty, which requires equality for all regardless of sex, racial or ethnic origin, religion or belief, disability, age or sexual orientation;

5.  Notes the recent revision of the Accession Partnership; is aware of the fact that this, the third revision since 2001, is in most areas prolonging non-fulfilled priorities for a further period; urges the Turkish government now to transform the priorities and the time-lines as set out in the partnership into its reform plans, bearing in mind that further delays will seriously affect the pace of negotiations;

6.  Welcomes the fact that in 2007 democracy prevailed over attempts by the military to interfere in the political process; encourages the Turkish government to make further systematic efforts to ensure that the democratically elected political leadership bears full responsibility for formulation of domestic, foreign and security policy, including towards Cyprus, and that the armed forces respect this responsibility by fully and unambiguously acknowledging civilian control; points out, in particular, the need to establish full parliamentary oversight of military and defence policy and all related expenditure;

7.  Is concerned about the implications of the AK Party closure case; expects the Turkish Constitutional Court to respect principles of the rule of law, European standards and the Guidelines on prohibition and dissolution of political parties and analogous measures, adopted by the Venice Commission of the Council of Europe on 10-11 December 1999; asks the Turkish parliament to bring the Constitution into line with these standards on the prohibition of political parties;

8.  Calls on the Turkish government, when pursuing reforms, to respect pluralism and diversity in a secular and democratic Turkey, and urges the government and all political parties to engage themselves constructively in seeking consensus on the important steps concerning the modernisation of the country;

9.  Considers the changes to Article 301 of the Penal Code, adopted by the Turkish parliament on 30 April 2008, to be a first step towards a fundamental reform of that article as well as other articles of the Penal Code, and looks forward to further moves in this respect; stresses that progress has to be achieved regarding freedom of expression, both in theory and in practice; deplores the fact that the number of persons prosecuted under legal provisions allowing for arbitrary restrictions on the expression of non-violent opinion has further increased in 2007(6); is of the view that the repeal of Article 301 and other legal provisions representing an illegitimate restriction on freedom of expression as guaranteed by international law would be the best solution in order to ensure that Turkey fully guarantees freedom of expression and press freedom in line with the standards enshrined in the European Convention for the protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (ECHR);

10.  Welcomes the recent adoption by the Turkish parliament of the Law on Foundations; welcomes the Commission's intention to examine the new text, and underlines that it should analyse whether the Law addresses all shortcomings faced by non-Muslim religious communities with regard to property management and acquisition, including confiscated property sold to third parties; calls on the Turkish authorities to ensure that the Law is implemented in line with the ECHR and the case-law of the European Court of Human Rights;

11.  Encourages the Turkish government, following the positive step taken with the adoption of the Law on Foundations, to fulfil its commitments regarding freedom of religion by establishing, in line with the ECHR and the case-law of the European Court of Human Rights, a legal framework enabling all religious communities to function without undue constraints, in particular as regards their legal status, the training of clergy, the election of the hierarchy, religious education and the construction of places of worship; calls for protection of the religious and cultural heritage; reiterates its call for the immediate re-opening of the Greek Orthodox Halki Seminary and the public use of the ecclesiastical title of the Ecumenical Patriarch; shares the concern expressed by the Council on 24 July 2007 over the ruling of the Turkish Court of Cassation on the Ecumenical Patriarchate, and expects that this decision will not further impede the exercise by the Patriarchate and other non-Muslim religious communities of their rights guaranteed under the ECHR;

12.  Urges the Turkish government to launch, as a matter of priority, a political initiative favouring a lasting settlement of the Kurdish issue, which can only be based on tangible improvements in the cultural, economic and social opportunities available to citizens of Kurdish origin, including real possibilities to learn Kurdish within the public and private schooling system and to use it in broadcasting, in daily life and in access to public services; regards a possible banning of the Democratic Society Party (DTP) as counterproductive to a political solution;

13.  Calls on the DTP, its members of parliament and mayors to distance themselves clearly from the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) and to engage constructively in the quest for a political solution to the Kurdish issue within the democratic Turkish state; also asks all other political parties in Turkey to engage constructively in the quest for the same goal;

14.  Deplores the many court cases brought against elected mayors and other politicians for using the Kurdish language, or for expressing their opinion on the Kurdish issue, such as the proceedings resulting in the recent conviction of Leyla Zana, and of the 53 DTP mayors;

15.  Reiterates its earlier calls upon the Turkish government to come up with a comprehensive master plan to boost the socio-economic and cultural development of the south-east of Turkey, where over half the population still lives below the poverty line; is of the view that this master plan should also address the social, ecological, cultural and geopolitical problems stemming from the Southeastern Anatolia Project; asks the Commission to link the regional component of assistance given under the Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance (IPA)(7) to the speedy drawing-up of such a strategy;

16.  Urges the Turkish government to come up with an overall national strategy to address the issue of internally displaced persons, which would remove the current legal and practical deficiencies and provide the financial and other support needed in order to properly tackle the return and compensation of those concerned;

17.  Takes note of the process under way to prepare a new, civilian constitution; regards it as the key opportunity to place the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms at the core of the constitution; reiterates that a system of checks and balances needs to be established, guaranteeing democracy, the rule of law, social cohesion and the separation between religion and state; stresses also that the new constitution should ensure gender equality, avoid the use of vague criteria such as general morality, refrain from perceiving women primarily as family or community members and reaffirm women's human rights, including their sexual and reproductive rights, as their individual rights;

18.  Underlines the need for a broad involvement of civil society in this constitutive process in order to achieve a consensus on Turkey's constitutional future embracing political parties, ethnic and religious minorities and social partners; notes the disappointment and concern of part of the population that the lifting of the ban on wearing headscarves in universities was not part of a broader package of reform based on a wide-ranging consultation of civil society; reiterates its earlier recommendation, contained in its above-mentioned resolution of 27 September 2006, on the electoral threshold;

19.  Notes the progress made as regards the efficiency of the judiciary; welcomes the Turkish government's plan to implement a reform strategy designed to strengthen the independence and impartiality of the judiciary and to increase the confidence enjoyed by the judiciary amongst the public; is of the view that this strategy should, as a priority, ensure that interpretation of legislation related to human rights and fundamental freedoms is in line with ECHR standards; notes that the strategy cannot be achieved without an ambitious re-training programme for the judiciary; is concerned about the negative attitude shown by certain elements of the judiciary towards international agreements on fundamental rights and freedoms, and towards the judgments handed down by the European Court of Human Rights against Turkey for violations of the ECHR;

20.  Urges the Turkish Constitutional Court to make progress in proceeding to its final decision on the Law on the Ombudsman, so as to enable the government to establish the ombudsman's office without delay; recommends to Turkey that it should cooperate on this issue with the European Ombudsman and with national ombudsmen in EU Member States;

21.  Is concerned about the hostility, strongly present in certain parts of society, shown to minorities and about politically and religiously motivated violence; calls on the Turkish government to take action against organisations and groups which stir up such hostility, to protect all those who are threatened and fear for their lives, and to make sustained efforts to create an environment conducive to full respect of fundamental human rights and freedoms;

22.  Strongly urges the Turkish authorities to carry out a full investigation into the murders of Hrant Dink and of the three Christians in Malatya, as well as all other cases of politically, religiously or racially motivated violence; deplores the slowness of the trials concerning these cases, the suspicions of partiality and the feeling of impunity which stem therefrom, and asks the authorities to provide full clarification of allegations of negligence on the part of the competent authorities, and to bring all responsible to justice;

23.  Encourages the Turkish authorities to resolutely pursue investigations into the Ergenekon criminal organisation while closely adhering to the principles of the rule of law, to fully uncover its networks reaching into the state structures and to bring those involved to justice;

24.  Takes note of the Commission's assessment of the continued downward trend in the number of cases of torture and ill-treatment and of the positive effect of the relevant legislative safeguards; asks the Commission, however, to analyse whether the anti-terror law and the law on police powers do not weaken this positive record; calls on the Turkish government to step up its fight against torture perpetrated outside and inside detention centres and against the impunity of law enforcement officials, and to ratify and implement the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, thus providing for systematic torture prevention and for independent monitoring of detention centres;

25.  Takes note of Prime Minister Erdogan´s assessment of assimilation, as expressed during his recent official visit to Germany; is therefore of the opinion that the Turkish government should take steps to enable all citizens to develop their cultural identity within the democratic Turkish state; points out in this regard the commitments set out in the Negotiating Framework concerning respect for and protection of minorities, and effective access to the learning and broadcasting of, and to public services in, languages other than Turkish;

26.  Welcomes the progress achieved on protecting women against violence, and commends the work undertaken by public institutions and civil society organisations in this respect; encourages the Turkish authorities to further eliminate domestic violence, so-called "honour killings" and forced marriages, in particular by fully implementing the relevant legislation, continuing a sustained public campaign, providing more shelters for victims, stepping up training for law enforcement bodies and closely monitoring initiatives put in place; notes with concern that access to reliable data on the incidence of violence against women continues to be a problem, and urges the Turkish government to remedy this deficiency;

27.  Acknowledges that a considerable number of women hold important positions in the Turkish economic, political and academic spheres, and reiterates that the equal treatment, access to education and empowerment of women in the political, economic and social sector are crucial for further economic growth and prosperity in Turkey; notes with concern, however, that the overall rate of employment of women in Turkey is still only 23.8%(8) and that there has been scarcely any increase in the participation of women in politics; therefore calls on the Turkish government to take further tangible steps to increase the participation of women in the workforce, with particular focus on rural areas, to enhance their inclusion in health and social security systems, and to devise instruments or temporary measures to increase women's active involvement in politics;

28.  Commends the Turkish government on its support for successful cooperation projects between EU and Turkish partners, such as the twinning project which is preparing the way for an independent gender equality body and is training 750 officials in the field of gender mainstreaming; expects that such a gender equality body will be set up without delay;

29.  Notes that it is unclear what the competences are of the proposed Commission on Equal Opportunities of the Turkish parliament; encourages the Turkish parliament to create a specialised commission with legislative powers as an essential instrument for the improvement of women's rights and gender mainstreaming in Turkey;

30.  Respects and strongly supports the work of women's organisations in Turkey, which help to strengthen women's role in society, help to protect them against violence and foster their entrepreneurship, while setting a positive example for women's empowerment and contributing to equality between women and men;

31.  Commends Turkey on the positive development of its economy; reiterates its view that only a socially coherent society, backed up by a strong middle class, can enjoy prosperity; regrets, therefore, the low impact of the strong economic growth on the continuously weak employment market; points out the need to tackle the problem of the black economy and to place the social security system on a sustainable footing; considers that a bigger role for small and medium-sized enterprises could help to bring about faster economic growth;

32.  Points out the potential of an effective social dialogue to build the partnerships needed for the functioning of a socially oriented market economy; is disappointed at the limited progress made in strengthening the social dialogue mechanisms; urges the Turkish government to fully implement International Labour Organization conventions, and underlines the need to remove current restrictions on freedom of association, the right to strike and the right to collective bargaining;

33.  Is concerned by the excessive force used by Turkish police against demonstrators at the 2008 May Day rally in Istanbul; reaffirms that freedom of association and the peaceful operations of trade unions represent a fundamental right under the ECHR;

34.  Underlines the importance of access to education as key to a socially coherent society; commends the Turkish government and civil society on the campaign to increase girls´ enrolment in schools; points out, however, the need to ensure that all children are registered at birth, and to improve monitoring and enforcement of the schooling obligation so as to further reduce the number of children not attending schools; commends the Turkish government on the positive results achieved in reducing child labour, and encourages it to continue its efforts in that regard;

35.  Expresses its concern about the level of corruption; urges the Turkish authorities to develop an overall anti-corruption strategy designed to pursue effectively the fight against corruption;

36.  Is concerned about the high extent of development disparities among Turkish regions and also between rural and urban areas; calls on the Turkish government to come up with a comprehensive strategy addressing these disparities; invites the Commission to provide Parliament, before the end of 2008, with information on the EU's contribution to this strategic planning under the IPA instrument in 2007 and 2008;

37.  Calls on the Turkish government to apply European standards to projects with far-reaching effects, such as the construction of dams in the Munzur valley, the Allianoi dam, the construction of the Ilisu dam and gold-mining in Bergama and other regions, which threaten both the historical heritage and unique, valuable landscapes; calls on the Turkish government to take EU law as a guideline when planning regional development projects;

38.  Strongly condemns the violence perpetrated by the PKK and other terrorist groups on Turkish soil; condemns the attack in Diyarbakir in January 2008, in which six people were killed and more than 60 injured, and offers its sincere condolences to the families of the victims of this crime; reiterates its solidarity with Turkey in its fight against terrorism and once again calls on the PKK to declare and respect an immediate and unconditional ceasefire;

39.  Reiterates its appeals to the Turkish government not to engage in any disproportionate military operations violating Iraq's territory; urges Turkey to respect Iraq's territorial integrity, human rights and the rule of law, and to ensure that civilian casualties are avoided; urges the Government of Iraq and the Kurdish Regional Government of Iraq not to allow Iraqi territory to be used as base for terrorist acts against Turkey; welcomes the communication taking place between the governments of Turkey and Iraq, and also calls for measures to step up cooperation with the Kurdish Regional Government of Iraq, so as to make effective prevention of terrorist attacks possible under Iraqi responsibility;

Regional issues and external relations

40.  Recalls Turkey's commitment to good neighbourly relations, and stresses its expectation that Turkey will refrain from any threats against neighbouring countries and resolve all outstanding disputes peacefully in accordance with the UN Charter, other relevant international conventions and bilateral agreements and obligations; in particular, invites the Turkish authorities to enhance, in the spirit of good neighbourly relations, the dialogue with Greece (e.g. on the Aegean continental shelf) and Bulgaria (e.g. on the property rights of Bulgarian Thracian refugees) in order to resolve all outstanding bilateral issues;

41.  Stresses the need to arrive at a comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus question; welcomes the agreement reached by the leaders of the two communities in Cyprus on 21 March 2008 and calls on both parties to use the current window of opportunity with a view to achieving a comprehensive settlement within the UN framework, based on the principles on which the EU is founded; in this regard, recalls its previous resolutions stating that the withdrawal of Turkish forces would facilitate the negotiation of a settlement;

42.  Welcomes the establishment of a financial support instrument to encourage the economic development of the Turkish Cypriot community; calls once again on the Commission to report specifically on the implementation and effectiveness of that instrument;

43.  Welcomes the improved relations achieved between Greece and Turkey over the last decade and the continuation of the good political climate, as evidenced during the recent official visit to Turkey of the Prime Minister of the Hellenic Republic, Kostas Karamanlis, which gives hope for further improvement of bilateral Greek-Turkish relations, in particular the peaceful settlement of all issues highlighted in Parliament's previous resolutions, on the basis of international law and in compliance with the commitments entered into in the Negotiating Framework;

44.  Calls on the Turkish government to re-open its border with Armenia, restoring full economic and political relations with that country; calls once again on the Turkish and Armenian governments to start a process of reconciliation, in respect of the present and the past, allowing for a frank and open discussion of past events; calls on the Commission to facilitate this reconciliation process;

45.  Acknowledges Turkey's role as an important partner of the EU with a view to the realisation of EU foreign policy goals in the Black Sea region, Central Asia and the broader Middle East; calls on the Commission and the Council to better exploit the potential of close EU-Turkey relations in these regions;

46.  Urges Turkey to sign the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, since this is a vital multilateral instrument;

47.  Commends Turkey's contribution to European Security and Defence Policy missions and operations in Bosnia-Herzegovina and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and its contribution to NATO-led operations in Kosovo, Darfur and Afghanistan;

48.  Regrets, however, Turkey's objections to the implementation of the EU-NATO strategic cooperation based on, and going beyond, the Berlin Plus Agreement; is concerned about their negative consequences for the protection of the EU personnel deployed, notably the EU Police Mission in Afghanistan and the EU Rule of Law (EULEX) Mission in Kosovo, and calls for those objections to be withdrawn by Turkey at the earliest possible date;

EU-Turkey relations

49.  Urges the Turkish government to implement fully and without delay the provisions stemming from the EC-Turkey Association Agreement and the Additional Protocol thereto; recalls that non-fulfilment of Turkey's commitments will continue to seriously affect the process of negotiations;

50.  Recognises Turkey's ambition of becoming an Eurasian energy hub and the role it can play in contributing to Europe's energy security; commends the progress achieved by Turkey in the field of energy; recalls its above-mentioned resolution of 24 October 2007 supporting the opening of negotiations on this chapter; encourages Turkey to join the European Energy Community as a full member, so as to strengthen energy cooperation between EU and Turkey, which can benefit all parties involved; calls on Turkey to fully support the Nabucco pipeline project, which is a European priority project;

51.  Calls on the Commission and the Turkish government to start negotiations on an EU-Turkey visa facilitation agreement;

52.  Points out that one of the main immigration routes to Europe from the broader Middle East and South Asia passes through Turkish territory; notes the limited progress achieved in the field of migration management; calls on the Commission and Turkey to intensify the negotiations on a readmission agreementin compliance with fundamental human rights, with a view to concluding it without delay; urges the Turkish government to implement properly the existing bilateral readmission agreements and protocols with EU Member States;

53.  Welcomes the progress achieved by the Turkish government in the areas of education, training, youth and culture as far as alignment with the EU acquis is concerned; underlines the importance of close and sustained cooperation between the EU and Turkey in these fields, which are crucial for the successful long-term modernisation of Turkish society;

54.  Welcomes the nomination of Istanbul as European Capital of Culture 2010 as an opportunity to strengthen intercultural dialogue and cooperation between the EU and Turkey;

55.  Reiterates its support for the EU-Turkey Civil Society Dialogue, and asks the Commission to report on activities carried out within that framework, as well as on assistance provided to Turkish civil society under the IPA; calls on the Turkish government to involve its civil society more closely in the reform process;

56.  Welcomes the fact that the IPA provides for support for actions promoting better-informed public debate about enlargement of the EU; invites the Turkish government as well as non-governmental actors in Turkey and the EU to make full use of these means in order to enhance support for the reform process and for further strengthening of EU-Turkey relations;

57.  Regrets that the Commission has not issued a follow-up to the impact study presented in 2004, and urges that this be presented to Parliament without delay;

58.  Calls on the Turkish government to set up all structures necessary to fully implement the IPA assistance and to enhance Turkey's absorption capacity; invites the Commission to report, before the end of 2008, on assistance provided to Turkey under the IPA since 2007;

59.  Reiterates the importance of bilateral and trilateral cross-border cooperation programmes (Turkey-Greece-Bulgaria) and also those realised under the ENPI (European Neighbourhood and Partnership Instrument)/CBC (Cross-Border Cooperation) Black Sea Programme, as an appropriate tool for encouraging closer social, cultural and economic contacts between the local partners in the border regions;

o   o

60.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the Secretary General of the Council of Europe, the President of the European Court of Human Rights, the governments and parliaments of the Member States and the Government and Parliament of the Republic of Turkey.

(1) OJ C 306 E, 15.12.2006, p. 284.
(2) Texts adopted, P6_TA(2007)0472.
(3) OJ C 157 E, 6.7.2006, p. 385.
(4) OJ C 287 E, 29.11.2007, p. 174.
(5) OJ L 51, 26.2.2008, p. 4.
(6) Commission Communication entitled "Enlargement Strategy and Main Challenges 2007-2008" (COM(2007)0663), p. 57.
(7) Council Regulation (EC) No 1085/2006 of 17 July 2006 establishing an Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance (IPA) (OJ L 210, 31.7.2006, p. 82.
(8) Statistical annex to the above-mentioned Turkey 2007 Progress Report.

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