BRUSSELS–The first draft resolution on European Union-Turkey relations underlining the chief areas that need to be addressed by Turkey in the short run has been finalized by the new European Parliament rapporteur for Turkey, Ria Oomen-Ruijten, who took over from Camiel Eurlings earlier this year.
The draft resolution will be presented to the European Parliament’s Committee on Foreign Affairs next week by Dutch rapporteur Oomen-Ruijten who said it should be taken into consideration by the European Commission, which will publish its regular report on Turkey in November.
Contrary to Eurlings’s draft report in 2006, Oomen-Ruijten avoided any reference to Armenian genocide allegations in her draft. Eurlings’ proposal of introducing recognition of the Armenian genocide as a condition for membership was rejected by the European Parliament last year. In Oomen-Ruijten’s draft resolution this year, Turkey is asked to refrain from imposing economic blockades, border closure or military activities against neighboring countries. Turkish and Armenian governmen’s are called to start a process of reconciliation.
In the draft, the European Parliament welcomed that the July 22 elections led to a better representation in the Turkish Parliament, and encouraged the newly elected deputies to engage themselves in the transformation of Turkey into a stable democracy. The new Turkish government is being urged to accelerate the process of reforms and to search for a broad consensus within the Turkish Parliament on important institutional matters.
The resolution refers neither to the April 27 declaration of the Turkish military nor to the political crisis that followed. The repeated interference of the Turkish Armed Forces in the political process, however, is criticized. While stressing the need to ensure full civilian control over the military, it is underlined that civilian authorities should supervise the formulation of a national security strategy and its implementation. It also called for the establishment of a full parliamentary oversight of military and defense policy, and all related expenditures.
The European Parliament condemned the violence perpetrated by the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and other terrorist groups on Turkish soil. Turkey, however, is urged to refrain from any unilateral steps violating Iraq’s territory. The draft resolution also pointed out the need for a comprehensive strategy for the social-economic development of southeastern Turkey.
In the draft resolution, serious concern is expressed over the ruling by the Turkish Supreme Court of Appeals on the Ecumenical Patriarchate. The new Justice and development Party (AKP) government is urged to bring its approach toward religious minorities in line with principles of freedom of religion. Adoption of the Law of Foundations which sets a clear legal framework enabling them to exercise religion freely by allowing them to own property and train clergy, is identified as a matter of urgency for the new government.
Amendment of Article 301of the Penal Code is defined as another matter of priority to be addressed by the new government. In the draft, the European Parliament urged the government to use its parliamentary majority to make sure that provisions allowing for arbitrary restrictions on the expression of non-violent opinions are removed, and that freedom of expression and press are guaranteed.
In the draft resolution other problematic areas include the functioning of the judiciary, respect for fundamental rights and freedoms, protection of women rights, implementation of a zero-tolerance-to-torture policy, and protection of minority rights. Although Oomen-Ruijten’s draft resolution is not especially controversial, Turkey is concerned of the possible outcomes of the debate on the resolution, which will take place at the Committee on Foreign Affairs. Diplomatic sources said, Greek Cypriot and Greek members of Parliament will probably try hard to insert tougher language by introducing many amendmen’s to the current text. The Turkish side is worried that such a public debate just before the publication of the regular report ‘s considered as the most important document of the year ‘s may cause negative pressure on the Commission.