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 EU concerned at lack of progress in Turkey 

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EU concerned at lack of progress in Turkey  12.2.2009

February 12, 2009

The EU Foreign Affairs Committee is concerned of the "continuous slowdown of the reform process" in Turkey. Members of the Foreign Affairs Committee adopted on Wednesday the draft for Parliament's annual resolution on Turkey's progress towards accession, which was drawn up by Ria Oomen-Ruijten (EPP-ED, NL).

EU MP Joost Lagendijk called the EU report good, but said the Cyprus clausule was unbalanced. The report shows again that Cyprus is a stumbling block in the EU-Turkey talks. This was also confirmed by the International Crisis Group who called for more EU involvement in the Cyprus case.

Democratic reforms do not go far enough

The EU regrets that freedom of expression and freedom of the press are still not fully protected in Turkey and believe the amendment to Article 301 of the Penal Code does not go far enough as people continue to be prosecuted for expressing non-violent opinions, one such case being Leyla Zana. The EU is also worried about the case against the Kurdish DTP party and urges a change in the law on political parties.

The draft resolution also calls on the Turkish government to resume work on a new civilian constitution and to reduce the number of "honour killings" of women.

Need for a global settlement of the Cyprus issue

The resolution stresses the need to reach "a comprehensive settlement" of the Cyprus question based on UN Security Council resolutions. Despite the fact the Greek part of Cyprus vetooed the UN plan. The EU backs the direct negotiations currently under way between leaders of the Greek and Turkish Cypriot communities and urge Turkey to facilitate a suitable climate for negotiations by withdrawing Turkish forces.

MEPs deplore the fact that the EC-Turkey customs union and its additional protocol has not yet been implemented fully by the Turkish government. They also point out that the non-fulfilment of Turkey's commitments by December 2009 will further seriously affect the process of negotiations.

The non-recognition of Cyprus is blocking the start of talks on eight economic chapters. In addition, Turkey is refusing to allow access to its ports and airports to Cypriot ships and plans.

A lasting settlement of the Kurdish issue

Ankara must commit itself to a lasting settlement of the Kurdish issue. This will require better economic and social integration of citizens of Kurdish origin, including offering them real opportunities to learn Kurdish in the public and private schooling system and to use it in broadcasting, in daily life and in access to public services. MEPs welcome the launch of a Kurdish language television channel on 1 January 2009.

Nabucco, a "European priority project"

MEPs have been calling for the opening of negotiations on the energy chapter since October 2007. They are disappointed that no agreement on this has been reached within the Council.

Cyprus, which is currently prospecting for gas and oil off its coast, has reservations about the energy chapter. MEPs call on Turkey to support this "European priority project".

The Nabucco project has taken on greater importance since the gas crisis between Ukraine and Russia, which highlighted the EU's extreme dependence on Gazprom. The Nabucco pipeline would supply the EU with gas from the Caspian Sea which would transit via Turkey, thereby avoiding Russian territory.

Middle East and Caucasus

The committee welcomes Turkey's mediation efforts in the Middle East and the south Caucasus, notably following the conflict between Russia and Georgia.

Copyright, respective author or news agency, | vvanwilgenburg

** Kurds are not recognized as an official minority in Turkey and are denied rights granted to other minority groups. Under EU pressure, Turkey recently granted Kurds limited rights for broadcasts and education in the Kurdish language, but critics say the measures do not go far enough.

The use of the term "Kurdistan" is vigorously rejected due to its alleged political implications by the Republic of Turkey, which does not recognize the existence of a "Turkish Kurdistan" Southeast Turkey.

Others estimate over 40 million Kurds live in Big Kurdistan (Iraq, Turkey, Syria, Iran, Armenia), which covers an area as big as France, about half of all Kurds which estimate to 20 million live in Turkey.

Turkey is home to 25 million ethnic Kurds, a large Turkey's Kurdish community openly sympathise with the Kurdish PKK for a Kurdish homeland in the country's mainly Kurdish southeast of Turkey.

Before August 2002, the Turkish government placed severe restrictions on the use of Kurdish language, prohibiting the language in education and broadcast media. The Kurdish alphabet is still not recognized in Turkey, and use of the Kurdish letters X, W, Q which do not exist in the Turkish alphabet has led to judicial persecution in 2000 and 2003

The Kurdish flag flown officially in Iraqi Kurdistan but unofficially flown by Kurds in Armenia. The flag is banned in Iran, Syria, and Turkey where flying it is a criminal offence" 

Southeastern Turkey: North Kurdistan ( Kurdistan-Turkey) wikipedia    


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