Thursday, May 22, 2008

European Parliament Approves Turkey Progress Report, Criticizes Recent AKP Moves

The European Parliament approved two amendments to the Turkey progress report the EP's Foreign Affair Committee approved in April (see April 25 post) and voted to approve the final version of the report. Both amendments can be read as critical of recent actions taken by AKP. The first amendment was pushed by leftist parliamentarians and condemns the excessive force used by police during May Day celebrations (see May 8 post). The second amendment promulgates that much more is needed to be done to protect freedom of expression in Turkey, basically affirming what many EU politicians have already said was quite a lackluster reform that might change very little (see May 8 post and May 21 post).

As to the closure case, the report called on the Constitutional Court to respect the Venice criteria for party closure and affirmed its concern over its impact on Turkish democratization. European Parliament Rapporteur on Turkey Oomen-Ruitjen said that AKP might have avoided the case completely if it had moved ahead with the constitutional overhaul it was planning and remarked that suspension of constitutional reforms was regrettable. Oomen-Ruitjen's remarks speak to EU politicians' utter lack of faith in the judiciary of Turkey to eschew politics, and, yes, while it is sad that AKP did not push forward with the constitution instead of stopping along the way to make a deal that has cost them a great lot of political capital and put the party at risk, what can be done about it now?

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