On Wednesday, members of the committee adopted a draft version of the Parliament's annual resolution on Turkey's progress towards accession, prepared by Dutch MEP Ria Oomen-Ruijten (EPP-ED). The text, approved by 65 MEPs amid four votes against and one abstention, will be voted upon in plenary in March.
The nine-page resolution is accompanied by 103 pages featuring 188 amendments, so heated debate and fierce negotiations should be expected.
MEPs regret that freedom of expression is still not fully protected in Turkey. They also regret that an initial effort to reform the constitution degenerated into a debate over the headscarf issue and further antagonised society.
In a series of sentences starting with the word "regrets", MEPs voiced concerns about Turkey's lack of progress in putting in place an anti-corruption strategy, as well as in establishing civilian supervision of the military and parliamentary oversight of military and defence policy.
However, MEPs welcomed the beginning of trials for those accused of "being members of the Ergenekon criminal organisation" (EurActiv 12/01/09).
As on previous occasions, parliamentarians called on Turkey to make more effort to settle Kurdish issues, and expressed concern about violence towards minorities.
Need for a global settlement of the Cyprus issue
The resolution stresses the need to reach a "comprehensive settlement" of the Cyprus issue based on UN Security Council resolutions. MEPs gave their backing to direct negotiations currently underway between leaders of the Greek and Turkish Cypriot communities, and urged Turkey to facilitate a suitable climate for negotiations by withdrawing Turkish forces.
Also, as Turkey is suspected of meddling in the ongoing talks (EurActiv 20/06/08), MEPs called on Ankara to "allow the two leaders [Cyprus President Dimitris Christofias and Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat] to negotiate their country's future freely".
Nabucco high on the agenda
As Turkey recently threatened to reconsider its support for the strategic Nabucco gas pipeline should the EU refuse to unfreeze accession talks on important negotiating chapters such as energy (EurActiv 20/01/09), MEPs called on Turkey to fully support Nabucco and "expect that an inter-governmental agreement aimed at bringing the pipeline into operation will be concluded soon".