|KHRP welcomes 2009 Progress Report on Turkey’s progress towards accession to the European Union|
KHRP welcomes today’s Progress Report on Turkey by the European Commission and its 2009-2010 Strategy Paper entitled ‘European Strategy for European Enlargement’. These publications have confirmed the need for further progress to be made in a number of areas before Turkey can meet the criteria for European Union accession.
Despite several positive steps taken by Turkey, particularly in undertaking reforms of the judiciary and opening debate into the Kurdish issue, the report highlights the need for the pace of reforms to be stepped up. Specific areas of concern include freedom of expression, freedom of the press, freedom of religion, trade union rights, civilian oversight of the military and women’s rights and gender equality. The report highlights that much more also needs to be done regarding impunity for those involved in torture and ill-treatment and points to the implementation of several judgments delivered by the European Court for which legislative amendments have been outstanding for several years.
‘The European Commission’s findings again stress the need for the Turkish authorities to do away with unjustified restrictions on fundamental human rights’, says KHRP Chief Executive Kerim Yildiz. ‘It is crucial that the debate on the Kurdish issue be followed by concrete measures guaranteeing Turkish citizens, regardless of their origin, full rights and freedoms, and improvement of the situation in the Southeast.’
However, KHRP is concerned that while the Progress Report notes Turkey’s positive role in contributing to stabilisation in the South Caucasus and the Middle East, and Turkey’s valued partnership with neighbouring Iran, it makes no mention of Turkey and Iran’s continued cross-border bombardments in Northern Iraq, and indeed the knock-on effects for destabilising the region.
As documented by KHRP’s continued fact-finding missions to Kurdistan, Iraq and in our most recent report, ‘The Civilian Toll of Cross-Border Operations in Iraq’, these ongoing cross-border operations have detrimentally affected the lives of the inhabitants of the region. They have led to loss of life and debilitating injury, loss of livelihood and property, the destruction of traditional village modes of life and the trauma of the affected communities, especially children. KHRP is currently representing more than 76 affected villagers in legal complaints before the European Court.