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EU report cold shower for Turkey
Though acknowledging that Ankara has taken major steps towards meeting the bloc’s membership criteria, the report says that much still needs to be done.
April 2— Turkey is a long way from meeting the political criteria for membership of the European Union, according to a report tabled in the European Parliament late Thursday.


  The report, adopted by the parliament by a vote of 211 to 84, was unambiguous in its position.
       “Turkey does not yet meet the Copenhagen political criteria,” the report stated.
       Though the government of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan had taken many courageous steps in the face of resistance to political and economic reform, the report said that there were significant areas where more progress was needed.
       “The European parliament notes that torture practices and mistreatment still continue; regrets the fact that little progress has been made in bringing torturers to justice,” it said.
       There were still instances of political persecution, including the banning of political parties; intimidation of human rights campaigners and a lack of gender equality in a society where it said violence against women was widespread, the report said.
       One of the recommendations carried in the report was that Turkey draft a whole new constitution.
       “Absolute priority should be given to the political criteria,” the report said. “A modern constitution may form the basis for the modernisation of the Turkish state.”
       The report, written before the collapse of United Nations sponsored talks on the reunification of the two states on Cyprus, said that a resolution of the dispute on the island was an essential requirement for Turkey being granted a date for accession negotiations to begin.
       Settlement of the Cyprus conflict is an essential condition for progress on Turkey’s EU membership application,” it said.
       However, Gunter Verheugen, the EU’s Commissioner for Expansion, called on the parliament to back Turkey’s bid for membership.
       “We should not to pull the rug from under the reform process in Turkey,” he said, adding that turkey had played a very co-operative and constructive role in the recent Cyprus reunification talks.
       Despite this, Verheugen said that there were still many reforms Ankara had to implement.
       There was also criticism of the continued role of the Turkish armed forces in politics, business, culture and education.
       However, the parliament rejected an amendment promoted by right-wing deputies, including from French President Jacques Chirac’s UMP party, for Turkey to be offered a “privileged partnership” with the EU rather than full membership.

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