Following the release of the draft version of the EU Progress Report on Turkey, Turkey's EU Minister and Chief Negotiator Egemen Bağış said the draft reflected the distance Turkey has covered within a year, and reiterated Turkey's pledges to reform the Constitution and to continue the normalization of civil-military relations.
“The government does as the Constitution necessitates. … However, we still say we need a civil constitution, as we see moves for a civilian boost [in politics] as simply not enough,” Bağış told the Anatolia news agency on Sunday in response to questions regarding the context of the draft progress report on Turkey. Bağış also repeated that Parliament Speaker Cemil Çiçek had formed a consensus commission in which each party is represented equally, regardless of the number of seats they hold in Parliament, to discuss how the constitution should be worded to make sure it is inclusive of all members of society. “We hope to have a constitution that views the state under command and in service of the people, not as an entity above them,” Bağış noted.
The draft report obtained last week noted that Turkey was increasingly exerting civilian power over the traditional military strength in Turkish politics, and cited the Supreme Military Council (YAŞ) meeting, where Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and President Abdullah Gül swiftly replaced top army commanders, who resigned days ahead of the meeting in early August, bringing the country to the brink of a political crisis.
“Serious steps have been taken toward the normalization of the civil-military balance in Turkey, and the government has acted in line with laws and the Constitution in the process,” Bağış said of the government's moves in rebalancing the hierarchy in the country, but warned that civil control over the military did not mean offending the army, which “needs to stay ever strong in the barracks, for the good of all the parties.”
Bağış, noting that the military needed to be monitored like every other unit of the state, said: “The work of this institution [army] should also be monitored with the aim of rendering it more competitive. Turkey has indeed taken crucial steps, and it has not gone through crises in the process.”
Although Bağış noted that the draft of the progress report “may contain views we [the government] do not agree with,” he suggested that the work was a compilation of EU perspectives on Turkey and is not meant to be concurred by the candidate country in every way.
Bağış also noted that some member countries would receive more criticism than Turkey had reports been prepared for them. “Some European member countries might fear that Turkey's population, strength and dynamics might pose a threat to them,” Bağış said, speaking of the worries of some EU member countries, which do not want to see Turkey in the bloc. He added: “But we are determined to push on with the reforms and raise our standards. We may decide to be a member or not when the time comes.”