MEPs Urge 'Fresh Impetus' for Turkey's EU Integration
EU-Turkey relations need fresh impetus, but will get it only if Turkey makes more progress on reform, said the Members of the European Parliament in a resolution, voted on Thursday.
The resolution adopted during a plenary session on EU enlargement, on the Commission's 2011 report on Turkey's progress towards joining the EU, urges Turkey to do more to reform its judiciary and protect civil liberties and sets out concerns about its laws curbing media freedom and many trials of journalists.
"The interdependence between the EU and Turkey, stressed by our resolution, can only produce positive results if framed in a context of mutual commitment. For Turkey, this means concrete results in the reform process and improvement in the bilateral relations with its neighbours. For the EU, renewed efforts are needed to create conditions for the opening of the chapters," Ria Oomen-Ruijten (EPP, NL), Parliament's rapporteur on Turkey, said ahead of the vote, as cited by the press service of the EP.
Thursday resolution voices concerns about the deterioration of media freedom and laws limiting the freedom of expression in Turkey, many court cases against journalists and excessively long pre-trial detention periods.
The European Parliament stresses that reform for a modern, independent and impartial judiciary should create the right conditions for opening negotiations on judiciary and fundamental rights and on justice and home affairs. MEPs back the Commission's new approach of opening these chapters early on in the negotiating process and closing them at the very end.
The reform in the area of freedom of thought is vital, MEPs stress, calling for equal treatment of all religious communities. Equal rights for women are also needed, as well as zero tolerance of violence against women and children and the broadest possible access to education.
The EP supports the Commission's "fresh positive agenda" aiming to create a new dynamism in EU-Turkey relations. It notes Turkey's strategic role in the region and says the EU and Turkey should step up their cooperation on shared foreign and neighbourhood policy priorities and in the area of energy.
While praising Turkey' firm stance on Syria and pointing to it as a "source of inspiration for democratising Arab States", MEPs regret its statements that it will freeze relations with the EU's Cyprus Presidency if the northern Cyprus issue is not resolved by mid-2012. Parliament supports the ongoing UN-led reunification negotiations and asks Turkey to begin withdrawing its forces from Cyprus.
Turkey needs to put the 2010 constitutional reform package into effect and ensure a serene political process, based on consensus, for drafting a new civilian constitution. Civil society must be included in this process, MEPs say.
MEPs say that in drafting the constitution, Turkey should provide for full recognition of all its ethnic and religious communities, acknowledge the inclusive nature of modern citizenship and promote the constitutional protection of mother-tongue language rights.
The resolution also urges Turkey to find a political solution to the Kurdish issue.
The EP resolution points out that Turkey is the only EU candidate country not benefitting from visa liberalisation. It calls for a roadmap for visa liberalisation once Turkey has signed the readmission agreement on illegal immigration.
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