No: 112, 18 April 2013, Press Release Regarding the European Parliament Resolution on the 2012 Progress Report on Turkey

The European Parliament (EP) resolution on the 2012 Progress Report on Turkey has been voted and adopted today (18 April 2013) at the EP Plenary Session held in Strasbourg. Annually, during the spring semester, EP adopts such a resolution on Turkey.

Assessments by the EU institutions regarding candidate countries, while drawing attention to the requirements for accession, are expected to encourage furthering these processes. In this context, the resolutions issued by the EP are useful to the extent that they are fair and objective.

The EP resolution on Turkey, prepared by Dutch Christian Democrat Ms. Ria Oomen-Ruijten, highlights a number of positive steps taken in the field of reforms in our country, including the 4th Judicial Package, the Law on the Ombudsman and the appointment of the first Ombudsman, the Law on the Establishment of the National Human Rights Institution, the Law on the Protection of Family and the Prevention of Violence Against Women and regarding the property rights, the amendments to the Law on Foundations.

On the other hand, in the resolution there are some inaccurate perceptions and assessments such as the characterization of the situation created by PKK’s terrorist activities as an armed conflict. Nevertheless, we welcome the call on the EU member states to increase their cooperation with Turkey in the area of fight against terrorism. We also note that the terrorist activities perpetrated by PKK, which is on the EU’s list of terrorist organizations, are strongly condemned.

Regarding the accession negotiations, the resolution calls for the opening of Chapter 22 (Regional Policy and Coordination of Structural Instruments) and asks for the lifting of the blockages on Chapters 23 (Judiciary and Fundamental Rights) and 24 (Justice, Freedom and Security) which are closely related to our political reform process. The importance of opening of Chapters 15 (Energy) and 19 (Social Policy and Employment) is also underlined in the resolution.

The resolution, in which Turkey’s regional role and Turkey’s importance as a key country for the EU are also emphasized, praises the support Turkey extends to democratic powers in Syria and the humanitarian aid accorded to Syrians under temporary protection in Turkey.

These positive elements unfortunately do not alter the fact that the resolution also harbours biased and unacceptable aspects for us. For instance, the way in which the Uludere incident is portrayed in the resolution is far from being balanced and fair. Moreover, the EU’s flawed and biased position regarding the Cyprus issue is regrettably echoed in the EP’s resolution. We will under no circumstances accept unconstructive attitudes which ignore the sovereign rights of Turkish Cypriots. The EU can be of help to a solution on the Island only by acting impartially and objectively.

Furthermore, the resolution refers to the importance attached to the signing of the Readmission Agreement, initialled between Turkey and the EU in relation to fight against illegal migration. As was stated on various occassions, the steps we will take regarding the said Agreement will depend on simultanous and fair steps by the EU towards granting visa exemption to our citizens. It is also worth reemphasizing that the Law on Foreigners and International Protection which constitutes a significant reform covering many of the criteria under Chapter 24 entered into force on 11 April 2013.

Turkey is resolutely working towards its goal of accession to the EU and attaches importance to dialogue and cooperation with the EU. Advancing on our membership process will open up new opportunities not only for Turkey and the EU, but with global repercussions, for the whole region.