Renewed mutual engagement is needed to maintain constructive relations in EU-Turkey relations in the context of the negotiation process, MEPs said on Thursday. In a resolution on the 2012 progress report on Turkey, they call for opening of negotiations on the judiciary, fundamental rights, and home affairs and praise recent talks which might help settle the Kurdish issue.
"We need commitment from both the EU and Turkey," said Ria Oomen-Ruijten (EPP, NL), the EP rapporteur for Turkey. "Turkey needs to step up efforts to guarantee freedom of expression, media freedom and all other fundamental freedoms in line with the values of the EU. The EU must do its utmost to support Turkey in the reform process – renewed efforts for the opening of further negotiation chapters are important," she added.
Reform of Turkey's judiciary is central to its democratic consolidation and modernisation, MEPs stress. They welcome the adoption of the third and fourth judicial reform packages but insist on fully narrowing the broad definition of criminal offences, namely of the act of terrorism, shortening excessively long pre-trial detention periods and curbing the role of special courts in practice.
To accelerate the reform process, MEPs call on the Council to open negotiations on the judiciary and fundamental rights (chapter 23) and justice, freedom and security (chapter 24).
Parliament hails Turkey's efforts to fight "honour killings", domestic violence and phenomenon of forced marriages and child brides but is concerned that violence against women is still recurrent. MEPs also call for active promotion of women's rights, education and participation in the labour market and in politics.
MEPs welcome direct political dialogue between the government and former PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan and say this might open the perspective of a historic agreement settling the Kurdish issue peacefully and democratically.
Cyprus Presidency "missed opportunity"
MEPs regret that Turkey had "missed an important opportunity to start a process of engagement and normalisation of relations with Cyprus" during the Cypriot Presidency of the Council.
Syria and foreign affairs
MEPs praise Turkey for its humanitarian assistance to the increasing number of Syrian refugees but insist that the EU and Turkey should also develop joint strategic vision allowing ending the tragic crisis in Syria. They also say Turkey should develop its foreign policy in closer dialogue and coordination with the EU than in 2012.
Procedure: Non-legislative resolution