Turkey’s Problem Still Democracy

ANTALYA (Combined Sources)–Visiting the town of Antalya–the European Commission’s representative to Turkey Hansjoerg Kretschemer–warned that the EU-Turkey relationship will lag if the country does not limit the influence of its armed forces on political life.

"If relations between civilians and the military of Turkey are not conducted as in other countries of the European Union–then it’s a sign of serious shortcomings as far as democracy is concerned." he said.

"If the Turkish army can exert its influence on policy in Turkey–this means that democracy is faltering…The government has gained a chance to undertake necessary reforms. The EU knows this–and it is Turkey’s only chance to become–with the help of the European Union–a liberal democratic country."

The European Parliament recently adopted a resolution welcoming the progress Turkey has made towards fulfilling the criteria for EU membership.

The report emphasized that while "the door was open" the way to it would be a "rocky road."

Parliament representatives have stressed the need for comprehensive state reform–calling on the Turkish government to set up a new political and constitutional system which guarantees the principles of a secular system as well as civilian control over the military. They have also voiced concern over the army’s "excessive role" which is seen as slowing down its "development towards a democratic and pluralist system."

The European Parliament denies that the Judaeo-Christian and human’st culture of Europe is a prerequisite for EU membership but insists on respect for its "universal values of democracy–the rule of law–human and minority rights and freedoms of religion and conscience."

Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights Alvaro Gil-Robles said on Thursday that there were still problems in the implementation of reforms in the field of human rights in Turkey.

After his meeting with Turkey’s Parliamentary Human Rights Investigation Commission Chairman Mehmet Elkatmis–Robles stated that he was preparing a report on the human rights issue in Turkey and that there were still some problems in the implementation of human rights reforms.

Noting that implementation of reforms required great efforts–Robles said that efforts had to be exerted to totally end torture and maltreatment and to fully implement freedom of press and expression. Structural reforms in line with the spirit of the European Convention on Human Rights had to be continued–Robles pointed out.

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