EU to praise constitutional package and call for a new constitution

SELÇUK GÜLTA?LI
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 EU  to praise constitutional package and call for a new constitution - The  European Union will praise the constitutional amendment package voted in  on Sept. 12 and call for a brand new constitution in its upcoming  progress report on Turkey to be released on Nov. 9.
The European Union will praise the constitutional amendment package voted in on Sept. 12 and call for a brand new constitution in its upcoming progress report on Turkey to be released on Nov. 9.
The draft strategy paper will once again explain why the EU has consistently supported the package, while calling on the Turkish government to ensure that the drafting of the new constitution is an all-inclusive process for all political parities and civil society actors.
This year’s report will strongly underline the need to strengthen fundamental rights, in particular those of press and expression. While criticizing Turkey on Cyprus, EU notes that Turkey’s foreign policy had been very active in its immediate region. The EU characterizes the “new” Turkish foreign policy as an “asset” as long it lines up with the EU and Turkey’s accession process.
The following are the excerpts from the draft strategy paper:
Constitutional package: Turkey has continued its political reform process. Turkey amended its Constitution, introducing key reforms to its political and legal system that address a number of priorities in the areas of judiciary and fundamental rights. The reforms limit the authority of military courts; restructure the Constitutional Court; widen the composition of the high council of judges and public prosecutors, making it more representative of the judiciary as a whole; broaden trade union rights in the public sector; provide the basis for the adoption of special measures protecting the rights of women and children; guarantee protection of personal data; grant the right to apply to an ombudsman, thus providing the legal basis for the establishment of the ombudsman institution.
New constitution: The constitutional amendments are an important step in the right direction. However, broad public consultation involving all political parties and civil society, with their full engagement, is needed to strengthen support for constitutional reform. It is now essential to ensure proper implementation of these reforms through relevant legislation. A new civilian constitution would provide a solid base for a further strengthening of democracy in Turkey, in line with European standards and the EU accession criteria.
Fundamental rights: Regarding fundamental rights, freedom of expression and of the media needs to be strengthened both in law and in practice. A number of shortcomings remain in the exercise of the freedom of religion. Progress is also needed regarding women’s rights and gender equality and trade union rights.
Kurdish issue: The “democratic opening” aimed notably at addressing the Kurdish issue has produced only limited results. The security situation in the Southeast has worsened, with the resurgence of attacks by the terrorist organization the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). Some progress has been made in the fight against corruption.
Negotiations: Accession negotiations advanced albeit rather slowly. They have reached a demanding stage requiring Turkey to step up its efforts in meeting established conditions. By advancing in the fulfillment of benchmarks and of the requirements specified in the Negotiating Framework, Turkey will be able to accelerate the pace of negotiations. During the next few months, Turkey should give particular priority to the competition policy, public procurement and social policy and employment chapters.
Foreign Policy: Turkey’s foreign policy has become more active in its immediate neighborhood. This is an asset for the European Union, provided it is developed as a complement to Turkey’s accession process and in coordination with the EU. Turkey has made a number of proposals for closer EU-Turkey foreign policy cooperation. Considerable progress has been made in the negotiations towards a readmission agreement with Turkey.
Cyprus: Turkey has continued to express public support for the negotiations under UN auspices between the leaders of the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot communities to reach a comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus problem. However, there has been no progress towards normalization of bilateral relations with the Republic of Cyprus. Turkey has not fully implemented the Additional Protocol to the Association Agreement and has not removed all obstacles to the free movement of goods, including restrictions on direct transport links with Cyprus. It is urgent that Turkey fulfills its obligation of full non-discriminatory implementation of the Additional Protocol and makes progress towards normalization of bilateral relations with the Republic of Cyprus. The EU will continue to follow up and review progress made on issues covered by the Declaration of Sept. 21, 2005, in accordance the Council Conclusions, including the December 2006 and December 2009 conclusions. In the absence of progress, the EU will maintain its measures from 2006, which will have a continuous effect on overall progress in the negotiations.
Greece: Turkey needs to step up efforts to solve open bilateral issues; including border disputes with its neighbors. There is a renewed impetus to improve relations with Greece. A considerable number of formal complaints were made by Greece about continued violations of its airspace by Turkey, including flights over Greek islands.
Armenia: The protocols on the normalization of relations with Armenia signed in 2009 have not been ratified.


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