EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT MEPS CALL ON TURKEY TO NORMALISE RELATIONS WITH CYPRUS

Foreign Affairs Committee MEPs adopted Monday report that calls on Turkey and all parties concerned to actively support the resumption of talks on reunification of Cyprus. Turkey must take steps to normalise its relations with Cyprus, begin to withdraw its troops from the island and transfer the Famagusta area to the UN, according to the report. At the same time, the Republic of Cyprus should open the port of Famagusta under EU customs supervision and allow Turkish Cypriots to trade with the EU.

European Parliament Session in Strasbourg

The report also says that Turkey must do more to fight corruption and enforce respect for media freedom, free expression and judicial independence, said Foreign Affairs Committee MEPs on Monday. In a resolution on the progress of reform in Turkey in 2014, MEPs also urge the EU to back Turkey’s efforts to build solid, democratic institutions and ensure respect for fundamental freedoms, human rights and the rule of law. Finally, it advocates stepping up EU/Turkey foreign policy cooperation.

The Turkish government must commit itself « unequivocally » to respect democratic rules and principles, which are at the heart of the EU, MEPs said, inviting it to put the reform process at the centre of domestic policy choices. A new constitution, based on provisions promoting a pluralistic, inclusive and tolerant society, would underpin such a process, they added.

MEPs encourage the Turkish government’s efforts to conclude, in a sustainable way, the peace process with the Kurdish community but regret the Turkish decision to build the Ilisu dam, which in a region mostly inhabited by Kurds, is expected to have “devastating” social, environmental and political effects on the Kurdish population.

EU-Turkey foreign policy cooperation and counter-terrorism dialogue must be stepped up, and Turkey must use all its resources, to fight terrorist groups such as ISIL, say MEPs. Turkey should also do more to prevent foreign fighters, money or equipment reaching ISIL and other extremist groups through its territory, they add.

Turkish action against freedom of press and plurality of opinion is “incompatible with the fundamental rights of the EU” and “conflicts with a resumption of the negotiations process”, they say.

The committee condemns the Turkish government’s attempts to ban access to social media and websites, the intimidation of journalists and other pressures put on them,, and the police raids and detention of journalists on 14 December 2014.
MEPs are also concerned about persistently high levels of violence against women in Turkey and failures to enforce legal measures to prevent it. They call for comprehensive anti-discrimination legislation, including the prohibition of discrimination and hate speech on the grounds of ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, gender or gender identity.


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