EU Presses Turkey on Military Reform

BRUSSELS (UPI)–The European Union has urged Turkey to beef up efforts to keep its military under civilian control–as the country faces its worst civil unrest in years.

Although Turkey–which is a candidate for membership of the Brussels-based club–is rapidly changing to meet the bloc’s exacting standards–a senior European Commission official told a conference in Brussels that the "pace of change of Turkey’s reform has slowed down in the last year."

According to the Defensenews.com Web site–Alessandro Missir De Lusignano said Ankara still had to make the military’s budget more transparent and accountable to the Turkish parliament. Another point on Brussels’ wish list is to see the military’s presence in civil society diluted and the military courts’ ability to try civilians abolished.

The 25-member bloc has also voiced concern about the violence in the Kurdish part of the country–urging Ankara to protect the minority’s cultural rights and fight poverty in the region.

Last week–violent riots broke out in the predominantly Kurdish southeast of the country and this week several people have been killed in Istanbul in clashes between Kurds and Turkish security forces.

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