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Turkey: EP calls on Turkey to intensify reforms. Ria Oomen-Ruijten MEP


11 Feb 2011



Turkey should intensify it reforms. This is Parliament's key message in its Resolution on Turkey's 2010 Progress Report which was adopted today in the European Parliament's Foreign Affairs Committee with a vast majority (51 votes in favour and 5 against).


Rapporteur Ria Oomen-Ruijten said: "I would like to commend Turkish citizens and civil society for their support for further democratisation and their commitment to an open and pluralistic society. At the same time, I very much regret the confrontational political climate between the political parties and the strained relations between key political institutions."


According to the EP Rapporteur, the lack of a consensus on reforms between the government and the opposition is the real weak spot in Turkish politics today. Positive announcements therefore often have too little concrete follow-up and bring too little concrete improvements as far as, for example, the lives of citizens of Kurdish origin are concerned.


Regarding religious freedoms, the European Parliament notes that there have been a number of positive gestures but stresses that a systematic approach towards Alevis, as well as the Greek, Armenian, Aramean and other Christian communities is needed. "Furthermore I call on the Turkish government to revitalise efforts in the framework of the democratic opening to comprehensively address the Kurdish issue", Mrs Oomen-Ruijten said.


Ria Oomen-Ruijten also underlined the serious conclusions in the Resolution regarding the deterioration of the freedom of expression. "Pressure on newspapers, legal writs against journalists and the disproportionate ban of numerous websites are unacceptable. The judiciary should particularly protect the freedom of the press and contribute to a proper functioning of the system of checks and balances."


Furthermore, the European Parliament is worried about the increase in 'honour killings' and the very limited participation of women in the labour market. Ria Oomen-Ruijten continued: "I also call on political parties to use the opportunity of the upcoming elections to strengthen women's active engagement in politics."


However, Mrs Oomen-Ruijten appreciates the number of positive developments related to the political criteria, in particular the judicial reform as well as the adopted constitutional amendments which provide the basis for the establishment of an ombudsman, improvements in trade union rights and an increased civilian oversight of the military.


The European Parliament also notes Turkey's increasingly active foreign policy, aimed at strengthening its role as a regional player and urges the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Catherine Ashton, to intensify the existing dialogue with Turkey on foreign policy issues of mutual interest and for the coordination of foreign policy objectives. The EP calls upon the Turkish Government to step up its foreign policy coordination with the EU.


Finally, there has been no progress towards the normalisation of bilateral relations with the Republic of Cyprus. Turkey has not met its obligation of the full, non-discriminatory implementation of the Additional Protocol to the Association Agreement. This will continue to affect the process of negotiations.


The plenary vote is expected in the second week of March.


For further information:

Ria OOMEN-RUIJTEN MEP, Tel: +32-2-2845863

Eduard Slootweg, EPP Group Press & Communications Service, Tel: +32-475-721280


Notes to Editors:

The EPP Group is by far the largest political group in the European Parliament with 265 Members.