News, Turkey

Turkey objects to 1915, PKK points in EU progress report

Turkey’s EU minister Volkan Bozkir has also warned the European Parliament against approving the report with remarks hindering the negotiation process.

Turkey’s EU Minister Volkan Bozkir has warned the European Parliament against approving its latest annual progress report on the country with references to the 1915 events and the PKK terrorist group.

“If this report is approved with a reference to the European Parliament’s 1915 resolution, it will be declared null and void by Turkey,” Bozkir told reporters in Istanbul on Saturday after meeting with European Parliament Rapporteur for Turkey, Kati Piri.

Last month, the European Parliament had adopted a resolution that recognized the 1915 events affecting Armenians as “genocide”.

In another reference to “unacceptable points for Turkey” in the report, he said: “If there is a reference to removing the terrorist organization PKK [Kurdistan Workers’ Party] from the terrorist list in the report, it will not be possible for us to accept this report.”

The PKK is listed as a terrorist group by Turkey as well as by the U.S. and the European Union.

Thirdly, he added, the report would also not be acceptable to Turkey if it hindered continuation of the negotiation process and implied an end to EU’s economic contributions to Turkey.

Turkey has a Customs Union agreement with the EU, which came into force in December 1995. The union imposes common external tariffs for all industrial and processed agricultural goods.

According to the European Commission website, the EU is Turkey’s number one import and export partner while Turkey ranks seventh and fifth in the EU’s top import and export markets, respectively.

However, a free trade agreement between the U.S. and the EU might change that equation.  Turkey demands to be involved in the deal — called the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership — between the U.S. and EU since its Customs Union agreement with the EU will oblige Turkey to accept the U.S. goods to enter the country without any tariff, while Turkish goods will be taxed.

The minister also added that Turkey was open to criticism. “Of course, we will accept some of criticism as affirmative and will benefit from these criticisms in our works to further our democracy and fundamental rights and freedoms, as we always have done so far,” he said.

The meeting between Bozkir and Piri came after the European Parliament postponed a planned vote on approving the report last week.

The report, which was expected to be released two months ago, had been postponed due to the last minute amendments, Bozkir said, adding it might be released in the week of June 9 or July 9.

Earlier, Bozkir had thanked Piri for her efforts on the report saying, “As a friend of Turkey, she exerted hard efforts (on the report).”

The Dutch politician Piri, in her speech, highlighted the importance of maintaining dialogue between Turkey and the EU, stating that she has met with both government and opposition party officials and civil society organizations during her visit to the country to achieve this.

On Wednesday, she met with the opposition Republican People’s’ Party leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu in Ankara.

Turkey’s 2014 Progress Report had praised the country for efforts to reach an “inclusive and sustainable” settlement with its Kurdish population.

Despite criticism over “government interference” in the judiciary and bans imposed on social media, the report had also praised the country for its “invaluable support” for Syrian refugees.

Turkey has been a candidate country to join the EU since 1999. Negotiations for the accession to the EU began in 2005. Turkey must comply with 35 policy areas, or “chapters”, setting out reforms needed to become a member.

Resource: Anadolu Agency, May 31, 2015

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