ANKARA: EU says military should not speak beyond its remit

Today’s Zaman, Turkey
May 16 2009

EU says military should not speak beyond its remit

The European Union is preparing to tell Turkey that the military still
has powers that are not in line with European standards and that the
top brass often speaks on issues that are beyond their remit.

The European Union is preparing to tell Turkey that the military still
has powers that are not in line with European standards and that the
top brass often speaks on issues that are beyond their remit.

In a draft of the common position of the EU’s 27 members obtained by
Today’s Zaman, Brussels also criticizes the government for slowing
down the pace of reforms. The draft, which was approved by the
Committee of Permanent Representatives (COREPER) in Brussels on
Thursday, will be presented to Turkey on Tuesday during the 47th
meeting of the EC-Turkey Association Council.

The EU makes it clear that it will be closely following the
developments in Cyprus, calling on Ankara to open its ports and
implicitly stating that in the case of non-opening there could be
repercussions. Back in 2006, the EU decided to review progress
regarding the opening of Turkish ports to Greek Cypriot vessels in
2009. The EU Council is expected to look into the issue in December
2009. The EU has already frozen eight chapters out of 35 as Turkey has
refused to open its ports, stating that the EU has not kept its
promise to establish direct trade with the Turkish Cypriots. In
strongly worded paragraphs, Brussels carries nearly each and every
demand of the Greek Cypriots and the Greeks.

The EU will criticize the government for the slowdown in reforms, call
for an impartial and independent judiciary and make it clear that it
will be closely following whether Turkey opens its ports and airports
to traffic from Greek Cyprus by the end of the year Applauding
Turkey’s foreign policy in particular in the Middle East and the South
Caucasus, Brussels in a veiled message welcomes the new foreign
minister, Ahmet DavutoÄ?lu, who is known to be the architect of
the new mentality. DavutoÄ?lu will be meeting with his European
counterparts Tuesday for the first time since he accepted the job at
the beginning of the month. He will be accompanied by Turkey’s chief
EU negotiator, State Minister Egemen BaÄ?ıÅ?.

The two will meet with their European counterparts amid rising tension
between Turkey and the Franco-German axis, after German Chancellor
Angela Merkel and French President Nicolas Sarkozy jointly declared
that they were against Turkish membership. In the position, the EU
also welcomes the roadmap to normalization drawn up by Turkey and
Armenia on April 22.

While referring to the tax dispute between public authorities and the
DoÄ?an Media Group, the EU seems to have forgotten the
accreditation imposed by the military on certain media outlets. The
draft does not refer to the Akyurt incident during which Cihan news
agency reporter Lütfi Akyurt was left at the top of a mountain
where Grand Unity Party (BBP) Chairman Muhsin
YazıcıoÄ?lu died in a helicopter crash in late
March.

The EU reiterates its position on the judiciary, stressing that an
impartial, independent, reliable, transparent and efficient judicial
system is of utmost importance and is an essential condition for
strengthening the rule of law. However, the document does not refer to
the Ergenekon investigation. European diplomats speaking to Today’s
Zaman argue that member countries are closely following the
developments of the investigation, but avoid referring to the issue
because of the ongoing investigation.

The following are the highlights from the draft:
Military: The armed forces continued to exercise undue political
influence. Senior members of the armed forces should refrain from
making statements on issues going beyond their remit as concerns both
domestic and foreign politics. Full civilian supervisory functions and
parliamentary oversight of defense expenditure need to be
strengthened.

Judiciary: The EU welcomes the draft judicial reform strategy
presented in 2008, commends the efforts of Turkish authorities to seek
consensus among all stakeholders on the proposed reforms and looks
forward to the strategy’s formal adoption. It also looks forward to
the adoption of an action plan for the implementation of this
strategy. An impartial, independent, reliable, transparent and
efficient judicial system is of utmost importance and an essential
condition for strengthening the rule of law and the proper
implementation of the acquis.

Foreign Policy: The EU recalls the strategic importance of Turkey for
the union. The EU welcomes the active and constructive role Turkey
plays with its diplomatic initiatives in relation to the South
Caucasus and the Middle East and welcomes the close political dialogue
between Turkey and the EU on all these matters. The EU encourages
Turkey to pursue its current efforts in normalizing its relations with
Armenia and welcomes the joint statement of April 22 announcing a
roadmap in this regard.

Cyprus: Recalling its conclusions of Dec. 8, 2008, the EU notes with
regret that Turkey has not yet fulfilled its obligation of full
non-discriminatory implementation of the Additional Protocol to the
Association Agreement and has not made progress towards normalization
of its relations with Greek Cyprus. The EU will continue to closely
follow and review progress made on the issues covered by the
declaration of the European Community and its member states of
Sept. 21, 2005, in accordance with its conclusions of Dec. 11,
2006. Progress is now urgently awaited.

Reforms: The EU regrets that in 2008 Turkey made only limited
progress, particularly as regards political reforms. Substantial
efforts to ensure that Turkey meets the Copenhagen criteria must be
made in several fields in order to guarantee their irreversibility and
ensure uniform implementation throughout the country and at all levels
of the administration. At the same time, the EU welcomes the Turkish
government’s reaffirmed commitment to work for the reforms and hopes
that Turkey will now redouble its efforts to implement the measures so
long awaited. In this context, the EU welcomes the appointment of a
new full-time chief negotiator.

Freedom of expression: The EU welcomes the fact that the amendments to
Article 301 of the Criminal Code have had a positive effect and
stresses that it will continue to closely follow the
application. Against the background of statements by senior figures
strongly criticizing the press and actions taken by public
authorities, the EU recalls that there is a need to guarantee an
atmosphere conducive to full respect for the freedom of the press. In
this context, the EU will continue to closely follow the tax-related
legal procedure opened against a major national press group. Finally,
the frequent and disproportionate bans on Web sites are a specific
source of concern in the area of freedom of expression.

Minorities: The EU welcomes the launch of TV and radio broadcasting in
Kurdish nationwide 24 hours a day. It also welcomes the beginning of
radio broadcasting in the Armenian language. The EU encourages Turkey
to take further measures to enhance cultural rights in practice and
lift remaining restrictions, in particular as regards the use of
languages other than Turkish in local broadcasting, in political life
and when accessing public services. Action is also needed to resolve
problems encountered by the Greek minority, in particular as regards
education and property rights.

From: Emil Lazarian | Ararat NewsPress

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Emil Lazarian

“I should like to see any power of the world destroy this race, this small tribe of unimportant people, whose wars have all been fought and lost, whose structures have crumbled, literature is unread, music is unheard, and prayers are no more answered. Go ahead, destroy Armenia . See if you can do it. Send them into the desert without bread or water. Burn their homes and churches. Then see if they will not laugh, sing and pray again. For when two of them meet anywhere in the world, see if they will not create a New Armenia.” - WS