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Posted by Turkse Media
Jun 10, 2015

Turkey rejects European Parliament progress report: “Unacceptable”

EU Minister Bozkir says report is unacceptable and will be returned without being opened

Turkey rejected a 2014 progress report on EU membership compiled by the European Parliament on Wednesday.

The country’s EU Minister Volkan Bozkir said Ankara will return the report, which covers the reforms Turkey has made to comply with to join the EU, without opening it.

Three key sticking points for the Turkish government were the definition of the mass killings of Armenians in 1915 as “genocide”, declassifying the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) as a terror group and any suggestion of an end to the EU’s economic contributions to Turkey.

“I had earlier informed the EU parliament about the report and said if [these] three elements were included, we would return it,” Bozkir said.

He added: “The report will go into history books as the first one rejected by Turkey and described as ‘unacceptable’.”

Bozkir claimed the report had put a block on negotiations for Turkey’s accession rather than encouraging them. He also raised the issue of Cyprus, where a newly-elected Turkish Cypriot president is building ties with his Greek Cypriot counterpart to reunify the island, suggesting the report may affect the process.

The minister added that the report would not have any effect on the Turkish economy or financial markets.

The European Parliament approved Turkey’s 2014 progress report on Wednesday by 432 votes in favor, 94 against and 127 abstentions.

In a statement, the Turkish Foreign Ministry said: “The EP [European Parliament] decision draft, which was a balanced one and had constructive criticism in it in the first take, was transformed into a one-sided, far-from objective text during its process in the EP Foreign Affairs Committee.”

The ministry added that the report “will not contribute to our relations with the EP” and “will be returned”.

Speaking after the vote, the parliament rapporteur’s for Turkey, Dutch socialist MEP Kati Piri, said: “The EU and Turkey are important strategic partners and it is in the interest of both to have a close and effective cooperation.”

However, she said there are still “concerns on certain developments” and urged Turkey to “respect media freedom, free expression and judicial independence”.

Piri welcomed the recent general election in Turkey, saying it “demonstrated the resilience of Turkish democracy and the democratic spirit of its citizens”.

She added: “Turkish voters have indicated that they want change. Our reaction should not be to shut the door. This report also clearly calls for more, not less, engagement with Turkey at all levels.”

The report praised the country for efforts to reach an “inclusive and sustainable” settlement with its Kurdish population and asked the European Commission to “support the Turkish government’s efforts to conclude the peace process with the Kurdish community, through socio-economic and educational programs in the southeast of Turkey.”

Despite criticism over “government interference” in the judiciary and bans on social media, the report praised the country for its “invaluable support” for Syrian refugees.

It also urged the European Commission “to review the conduct of the EU accession negotiations with Turkey and to consider how EU-Turkey relations could be improved and intensified”.

Negotiations for Turkey’s accession to the EU began in 2005. Turkey must comply with 35 chapters setting out reforms needed to become a member.

 

AA | ANKARA

Jun 10, 2015
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