Turkish Government Rejects MEP Charges Over Reform

TURKEY: GOVERNMENT REJECTS MEP CHARGES OVER REFORM

AKI, Italy
Aug 5 2006

Ankara, 5 Sept. (AKI) – Turkey’s foreign ministry on Tuesday strongly
rejected a newly released draft report by a European Parliament
committee which warned the government that its continuing refusal to
allow Greek Cypriot ships and planes to enter its ports and airspace
implement reforms could stall its membership negotiations with the
European Union. Foreign ministry spokesman, Namik Tan, quoted by
Turkey’s Chihan news agency said the report lacked "commonsense and
objectivity," and would not improve Turkey-EU ties.

The European parliament report – compiled by Conservative Dutch
legislator Camiel Eurlings and adopted by the European parliament’s
influential foreign affairs committee on Monday – harshly criticised
Turkey for its slow pace of reform on rights, freedom of expression,
the role of the security forces and relations with EU member-state,
Cyprus.

"Turkey was deeply saddened by the stance of the European parliament
regarding the so-called Armenian genocide claims," Cihan quoted Tan
as saying. He was referring to a section of the report report that
levelled criticism at the Turkish government’s refusal to recognise
the killing of Armenians by Ottoman Turks during and after World War I.

The report recommended making such recognition a prerequisite for
Turkey’s membership of the EU. But Cihan quoted Turkish prime minister
Recep Tayyip Erdogan as saying it would be a "impossible daydream" to
expect recognition by Turkey of the killing of Armenians as genocide.

Tan called for MEPs to amend the report, which charges that the pace
of the reforms have slowed since Turkey began accession negotiations
with the EU in October 2005 and implementation of the reforms still
remains patchy.

Eurlings’ report urges Turkey to "reinvigorate" the reform process,
underlining that significant further efforts are required, especially
in the areas of freedom of expression, women’s rights, religious
freedom, trade union rights, torture and ill-treatment of prisoners.

The report will be debated by the full 732-member parliament in
late September.

After protracted negotiations, Turkey began accession talks with the
EU last October. The talks do not lead automatically to membership,
which in any event is not expected before 2015.

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