EU-Turkey relations: 2013 is a crucial year. Ria Oomen-Ruijten MEP
2013 will prove to be a crucial year for EU-Turkey relations in which we need to maintain and further develop our constructive relationship in an atmosphere of common understanding and mutual respect. To this end, a renewed engagement in the context of the negotiation process is needed. This is the main conclusion by Ria Oomen-Ruijten MEP on the basis of her latest Resolution on Turkey which was adopted by a large majority in the European Parliament's Foreign Affairs Committee today.
Ria Oomen-Ruijten stressed that efforts from both sides are required in this respect: "For Turkey, we underline the importance of further judicial reform that must lead to a modern, efficient, fully independent and impartial judicial system. The third judicial reform package was an important step. But it is crucial to continue the reform process this year and address issues related to the excessively broad definitions of terrorism in criminal law and in anti-terror law. Fundamental freedoms must be protected in the broader context of the rule of law, not only in terms of wording, but also in the application of the law. If Turkey develops into a modern and prosperous society, this will be beneficial for Turkish citizens, and also for the EU."
"Turkey needs to step up its efforts and the EU should do its utmost to assist in this process. Official benchmarks would provide a clear roadmap and would give a boost to the reform process. In this regard, renewed efforts for the opening of chapters 23 and 24 would be very important. However, energy is also an important area of cooperation between the EU and Turkey, and the opening of the negotiation chapter on energy could prove beneficial for both Turkey and the EU", Ria Oomen-Ruijten stated.
2013 will be an important year not only in terms of EU-Turkey relations, but also with regards to the Kurdish issue and the new constitution. The Resolution welcomes the dialogue between the Turkish Government and Abdullah Öcalan. These talks could lead to an historical agreement settling the Kurdish conflict in a peaceful and democratic way and we therefore encourage the conflicting parties to transform talks into structured negotiations as soon as possible. All political parties, media and civil society in Turkey must play a constructive role for the peace process to succeed.
Also, the ongoing work on the constitution is a very important opportunity in this regard. The relevant committee should be encouraged to continue its work and tackle, in line with the values of the EU, key issues such as the separation of powers, relations between the state, society and religion, basic rights of all citizens and an inclusive concept of citizenship. Involvement of, and dialogue with the Venice Commission of the Council of Europe, would produce positive results and support the Constitutional process.
For further information:
Ria Oomen-Ruijten MEP, Tel: +32-2-2845863
Kees Bos, EPP Group Press and Communications Service, Tel: +32-470-473183
Notes to Editors:
The EPP Group is by far the largest political group in the European Parliament with 270 Members and 3 Croatian Observer Members.