30 October 2006
Other obstacles to Turkish membership of the EU
In addition to Turkey’s continuing refusal to honour its legally binding commitments for EU accession regarding Cyprus, there are further reasons why it is not suitable to become a member of the EU. Critical cornerstones of the EUs democratic values continue to be violated in Turkey, as listed below:
- The continuing role of the armed forces. European Commissioner for Enlargement Rehn expressed concern over “…cases of interference of the military in the functioning of the judiciary and in the political agenda”. The 2005 report of the European Commission concluded that “the armed forces still exert significant influence”.
- Worsening reports of human rights violations by the Turkish security forces, in particular in the Kurdish areas of the southeast, as highlighted by the Europan Parliament’s fact finding delegation of September 2006.
- Severe restrictions on freedom of speech. Turkey continues to prosecute and imprison journalists, authors, publishers and activists who express non-violent opinions. Turkish law (Article 301 of the penal code) makes it an imprisonable offence to call for the withdrawal of Turkey’s occupation troops from Cyprus or to state that Turkey committed genocide against 1.5million Armenians in 1915-23. The European Commission and human rights organisations such as Amnesty International and Reporters Without Borders, call for Turkey to abolish Article 301.
- Restriction of minority and religious rights. The November 2005 report of the European Commission stated “…non-Muslim religious communities continue to encounter significant problems: they face restricted property rights and interference in managing their foundations, and they are not allowed to train clergy” and that non-Muslim communities had been subject to “violent or threatening behaviour”.
- Women’s rights. The EU requires Turkey to improve implementation of legal provisions regarding the punishment of ‘honour crimes’ committed against women.