Parliment asks Turkey to reenergise its reform plans

In its latest progress report on Turkey, adopted by a large majority of 467 for, 62 against and 61 abstentions, the European Parliament welcomes recent legislative activities in the country, while insisting that the speed of reforms must pick up. The own-initiative report, drawn up by Ria Oomen-Ruijten (EPP-ED, NL), "welcomes the commitment of Prime Minister Erdogan that 2008 is going to be the year of reforms" and "urges the Turkish government to fulfil its promises" by implementing them.

While the Parliament stresses that "modernisation is first and foremost in Turkey's own interest,"  it also notes that "further delays will seriously affect the pace of negotiations."

The House is "concerned about the implications of the AK Party closure case," and "expects the Turkish Constitutional Court to respect principles of the rule of law, European standards and the Venice Commission guidelines on the prohibition of political parties,"  asking the Turkish parliament to bring the constitution into line with these standards.

The Parliament adds that in its view "the repeal of Article 301 and other legal provisions representing an illegitimate restriction on freedom of expression as guaranteed by international law would be the best solution."
The report welcomes the fact that in 2007 democracy prevailed over attempts by the military to interfere in the political process, and encourages the government to "make further systematic efforts to ensure that the democratically elected political leadership bears full responsibility for formulation of domestic, foreign and security policy" and that the armed forces fully respect this responsibility by fully and unambiguously acknowledging civilian control.

Others Themes to be addressed

MEPs expressed their concern about the excessive use of force by Turkish police against demonstrators at this year's May Day parade in Istanbul. MEPs ask

Also, In light of the drafting of a new constitution, the report stresses that it should "ensure gender equality, avoid the use of vague criteria such as general morality, refrain from perceiving women primarily as family or community members and reaffirm women's human rights as their individual rights."  It also notes "the disappointment and concern of part of the population that the lifting of the ban on wearing headscarves in universities was not part of a broader package of reform based on a wide ranging consultation of civil society."