Turkey needs reform before more EU talks

The Associated Press
September 27, 2006 Wednesday 4:30 PM GMT

Turkey needs reform before more EU talks

By JAN SLIVA, Associated Press Writer

STRASBOURG France

The European Parliament on Wednesday warned Turkey that its refusal
to allow Greek Cypriot ships and planes to enter its ports could halt
its accession talks with the European Union.

In an evaluation report, the EU assembly said that Turkey’s progress
in the area of freedom of expression is "far from satisfactory", and
that no progress has been made lately in addressing difficulties
faced by ethnic minorities, such as Kurds.

Ankara is also awaiting a progress report from the EU’s executive
commission.

While the lawmakers dropped their demand that Turkey must acknowledge
the killings of Armenians around the time of World War I as genocide
before it can join the EU, they said it was "indispensable" for
Turkey to come to terms with and recognize its past.

They also urged Turkey to establish diplomatic relations with Armenia
and open the land border with its eastern neighbor.

Armenians say that as many as 1.5 million of their ancestors were
killed in an organized genocidal campaign by Ottoman Turks, and have
pushed for recognition of the killings as genocide by the 25-nation
EU and by other nations. Turkey vehemently denies the killing were
genocide.

Top EU officials hinted in July that entry talks with Turkey begun in
October are likely to stall because of Ankara’s continuing failure to
recognize Cyprus or allow in its ships and airplanes.

The European Parliament committee report warns that the "lack of
progress in this regard will have serious implications for the
negotiation process and could even bring it to a halt."

The parliament’s report was approved a day after Romania and Bulgaria
were given the go-ahead to join the EU on Jan. 1, 2007, raising the
number of EU members to 27. The EU has warned the bloc would not
accept more members until it resolves the future of its stalled
constitution.

The European Commission is to present its next evaluation of Turkey’s
reforms on Nov. 8. The European Parliament must give its assent
before every EU enlargement.

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