Turkey’s tense situation raises EU’s concerns

DISCLAIMER: All opinions in this column reflect the views of the author(s), not of EURACTIV Media network.

Recent threats made against the AKP government indicate that Turkey’s political turmoil has intensified since 2007, writes Katinka Barysch of the Centre for European Reform in an April blog post.

The AKP is now being chased by the chief prosecutor, who is willing to ban new president Abdullah Gül from office, reports Barysch. The party stands accused of “alleged antisecular activities, most notably ending the ban on women wearing headscarves in universities,” she adds. 

Last April, Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn, who usually keeps out of Turkey’s internal conflicts, said “the court was a mistake,” the author notes – a position which was backed by the EU’s High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy Javier Solana.

They both specified that if a ban on the governing party is introduced, the country’s accession negotiations will be stopped, says the blog, outlining many other cases of parties being banned “for allegedly violating the constitution”.

However “the circumstances have changed” now the AKP is in office, as it has managed to modernise and develop reforms.

The AKP wants to amend the constitution to prevent political parties from being banned. But it does not currently have the means to modify it as its votes in Parliament are insufficient, the author explains. 

A “scary” report from the European Stability Initiative regarding “Turkey’s deep state” reports urges the AKP to “adopt an entirely new, modern” constitution, says the author, arguing that this should be included in a “wider reform package”. The blog suggests that Turkey should open debates on individual rights and adopt an adapted system of checks and balances. 

It says the government could “liberalise rules for other religions” to promote women’s rights, for example. 

Barysch concludes that it is the role of Barroso and EU politicians to make it clear that Europe cannot “offer an easy way out of the current dilemma” and that dialogue on EU accession should be continued by the AKP. 

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