The European Parliament is preparing itself to tell European Union member states to help Turkey and intensify cooperation to combat against Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) terrorism. The EP is also planning to tell EU members for the first time to consider seriously extradition requests by Turkey, which have so far been largely neglected by European countries.
The EP draft report, authored by Dutch Christian Democrat Ria Oomen-Ruijten and expected to be discussed at the Foreign Affairs Committee of the European Parliament next week, will “reiterate the EU's firm and strong condemnation of terror [perpetrated] by the PKK,” asking member countries “to intensify cooperation with Turkey in the fight against terrorism.” The draft report is expected to be discussed at the Committee on Foreign Affairs Commission (AFET) on Thursday next week and to be adopted at the Plenary session by the end of March.
The draft obtained by Today’s Zaman also calls on the commission and the member states to facilitate adequate informative dialogue and exchange of information with Turkey on extradition requests by Turkey. The draft warns the EU that these requests “cannot be furthered on legal or procedural grounds.” Extradition procedures are extremely complicated because of legal hurdles and bureaucratic obstacles. European nations have for years claimed that difficulty in extradition does not stem from their lack of will but the legal system. The draft also calls on Turkey to find a political solution to the Kurdish problem.
The nine-page draft is very critical of Turkey’s record on freedom of expression and press, focusing on the arrests of journalists and a tax case involving the Doğan Group. On Cyprus, the draft, as in previous years, largely reflects the Greek Cypriot position, and the rapporteur this year calls on Turkey to transfer Famagusta to the United Nations, an issue Turkey considers to be a part of the final solution to the Cyprus dispute but not a confidence building measure. The draft, which supports the Greek Cypriot position on an oil exploration dispute with Turkey, also regrets Turkey’s decision to suspend talks with the EU when the Greek Cypriots take over the helm of the EU in the latter part of 2012.
On the controversial issue of visas, the draft underlines that Turkey is the only candidate country which does not have a visa liberalization agreement with the EU and calls on the EU to facilitate the access of businessmen, academics, students and representatives of civil society.
On cases like Ergenekon and Balyoz, the draft report states that these trials should demonstrate “the strength and proper, independent, impartial and transparent functioning of Turkish democratic institutions.” While praising Turkish foreign policy and dubbing the Turkish model as “an example for democratizing Arab States,” the draft calls on Ankara to coordinate its foreign policy with Brussels.
The main components of the report
PKK: Reiterates its firm and strong condemnation of the continuing terrorist violence by the PKK, which is on the EU list of terrorist organizations and expresses its full solidarity with Turkey; calls on the EU member states, in close coordination with the EU counterterrorism coordinator and Europol and with due regard for human rights, fundamental freedoms and international law, to intensify cooperation with Turkey in the fight against terrorism and in the fight against organized crime as a source of financing of terrorism; calls on the Commission and the member states to facilitate adequate informative dialogue and exchange of information with Turkey on extradition requests by Turkey, which cannot be furthered on legal or procedural grounds.
Kurdish issue: Calls on Turkey to demonstrate resilience and intensify its efforts for a political solution to the Kurdish issue and asks all political forces to work in alliance towards the goal of reinforced political dialogue and a process of further political, cultural and socio-economic inclusion and participation of citizens of Kurdish origin; takes the view that constitutional reform provides a very useful framework to promote a democratic opening; recalls that a political solution can only be built upon an open and truly democratic debate on the Kurdish issue and expresses concern at the large number of cases launched against writers and journalists writing on the Kurdish issue and the arrest of several Kurdish politicians, locally elected mayors and members of municipal councils and human rights defenders in connection with the [Kurdish Communities Union] KCK trial.
Freedom of press: Reiterates its concern on the practice of bringing criminal prosecutions against journalists who communicate evidence of human rights violations or raise other issues in the public interest as a contribution to the debate of a pluralistic society; considers the criminalization of opinions as a key obstacle to the protection of human rights in Turkey and deplores the disproportionate restriction of the freedoms of expression, association and assembly.
Ergenekon: Stresses [that] the investigations of alleged coup plans such as the Ergenekon and Sledgehammer cases must demonstrate the strength and the proper, independent, impartial and transparent functioning of Turkish democratic institutions and the judiciary and their firm, unconditional commitment to the respect of fundamental rights.
Civilian-military relations: Welcomes the continued efforts to improve civilian oversight of the military, in particular the adoption of the Law on the Court of Accounts in December 2010 to ensure civilian oversight of military expenditure.
Constitution: Recalls the need to continue to work on the implementation of the 2010 constitutional reform package; expresses its full support to the drafting process of a new civilian constitution for Turkey as an opportunity for true constitutional reform promoting democracy, the rule of law, fundamental rights and freedoms, pluralism, inclusiveness and unity in Turkish society; welcomes the decision to ensure equal representation to all political forces in the Constitutional Conciliation Committee and the pledge to base the drafting process on the broadest possible consultation of all segments of the society in the framework of a process closely associating civil society.
Judiciary: Stresses [that] the reform process of the judicial system must be at the forefront of Turkey’s efforts to modernize and that such reform must lead to a modern, efficient, fully independent and impartial judicial system; welcomes in this regard the adoption of legislation on the High Council of Judges and Prosecutors and on the Constitutional Court in close consultation with the Venice Commission.
Foreign Policy and Cyprus problem
Foreign policy: Stresses Turkey’s strategic role, politically and geographically, for the foreign policy of the European Union and its neighborhood policy; recalls Turkey’s role as an important regional player in the Middle East, the Western Balkans, Afghanistan/Pakistan, the Southern Caucasus and the Horn of Africa and Turkey’s role as an example for democratizing Arab states; supports Turkey’s firm stance and commitment to democratic forces in Syria and recalls its important role for the protection of Syrian refugees; calls on the EU and Turkey to reinforce their existing political dialogue on foreign policy choices and objectives of mutual interest; encourages Turkey to develop its foreign policy in the framework of dialogue and coordination with the EU and to progressively align its foreign policy with that of [the] EU with a view to creating valuable synergies and reinforce[ing] the potential for positive impact.
Cyprus: Strongly supports the ongoing negotiations on Cyprus reunification under the auspices of the secretary-general of the United Nations; stresses that a fair and viable settlement of the Cyprus issue is now urgent and calls on Turkey and all parties concerned to work intensively and with good will for a comprehensive agreement; calls on the government of Turkey to begin with withdrawing its forces from Cyprus and to transfer Famagusta to the UN in accordance with Resolution 550 (1984) of the UN Security Council; calls, in parallel, on the Republic of Cyprus to open the port of Famagusta under EU customs supervision in order to promote a positive climate for the successful solution of the ongoing negotiations for reunification and allow the Turkish Cypriots to trade directly in a legal way acceptable to all.
Cypriot presidency: Regrets Turkey’s statements that it would freeze relations with the Presidency of the EU in the second half of 2012, if a solution to the Cyprus issue [is] not … found by then.
Oil and natural gas dispute: Emphasizes that the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) has been signed by the EU, the 27 member states and all other candidate countries and that it is part of the acquis communautaire; calls, therefore, on the Turkish government to sign and ratify it without further delay; recalls the full legitimacy of the Republic of Cyprus’ exclusive economic zone in accordance with UNCLOS.
NATO-EU cooperation: Calls on Turkey to allow for political dialogue between the EU and NATO by lifting its veto on EU-NATO cooperation, including Cyprus, and consequently calls on the Republic of Cyprus to lift its veto to the participation of Turkey [in] the European Defense Agency.