Turkish Coalition Party Opposes EU Entry Reforms

ANKARA (Reuters)–A nationalist party in Turkey’s coalition government has made clear it is opposed to controversial reforms Ankara needs to introduce to secure membership of the European Union.

Speaking to his party members in the western city of Izmir late on Friday–Devlet Bahceli–leader of the Nationalist Action Party (MHP)–said despite its opposition to the reforms–politicians were wrong to accuse them of being anti-European.

Turkey is a candidate for EU membership. Abolishing the death penalty and increasing rights for the Kurdish minority are among the sensitive reforms Brussels wants to see enacted before it begins embracing Turkey in the EU fold.

The reforms have exposed rifts in the coalition and raised concern over its future at a time when the country is attempting to emerge from a punishing financial crisis.

While liberals in the government support both–the MHP does not–saying they threaten Turkey’s national security and unity.

"The MHP cannot compromise on Kurdish language education or lifting the death penalty," Bahceli said. "I am a person who has opposed lifting the death penalty for many years and my party is opposed to it."

The other two parties in the coalition government are the Democratic Left Party led by Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit and the Motherland Party.

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