EU report to praise Kurdish peace process
ISTANBUL – Hürriyet Daily News
Members of the European Parliament take part in a voting session at the European Parliament in Strasbourg. REUTERS photoThe European Commission is expected to focus on the peace process and the government’s attempts to resolve the Kurdish issue as a positive development in its upcoming progress report, due to be released on Oct. 13.
The progress report, a check list on where Turkey stands in the process of aligning with the European Union, will positively reflect on the commencement of peace talks that aim to end terrorism and violence in the country’s southeast, pave the way to finding a resolution to the Kurdish issue, and put forward measures that were announced in the democratization package, released last month.
More negatively, the Commission’s report will also touch on the increasing polarization in Turkey’s political arena, as well as issues including insufficient consultation and dialogue between respective stakeholders and the government. The Gezi Park protests, which shook the country over the summer, will be placed under the spotlight, with a review expected to term the events as “largely peaceful.”
Furthermore, it is anticipated that the report will also refer to the limited nature of the government’s attempt to reach out to protesters, as well as the excessive use of force, the inciting language used, and the absence of genuine dialogue.
The report is predicted to touch on the Turkish legal framework’s key provisions, combined with the judiciary’s hampering of fundamental freedoms, including that of freedom of expression.
Cross-ownership in the media and intimidating statements made by politicians, which has led to “self-censorship” in the traditional media becoming widespread, will also be under the microscope.
EU Ambassador to Turkey Jean-Maurice Ripert described the report as “mixed.” “It notes progress on the matter of the judiciary but a mixed picture on the area of fundamental rights,” talking last Thursday to journalists in Istanbul.
Ripert spoke quite positively of the performance of Turkey’s new ombudsman, who has sent out a number of teams across Europe within the scope of EU-backed projects, saying the Commission was working very closely with him. Yet he had also expressed frustration with the lack of an independent law enforcement monitoring system.
On the economic front, the progress report will note that economic growth slowed down while economic performance reaccelerated in the first half of 2013, evident in a GDP growth rate of 3.7 percent from year to year.
Additionally, the report will assert that the current account deficit remains sizeable, adding that Turkey’s dependence on short-term foreign capital inflows make it susceptible to sudden change in global investor sentiment. The report will also point out that while employment continued to rise at a robust rate, the female employment rate remains low at around 30 percent.
As far as compliance with EU legislation is concerned, the report will highlight progress on legislation passed concerning the free movement of foods, financial services, energy and regional policy.