Turkey report devides european parliament


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ANKARA - Turkish Daily News

A report on Turkey drafted by Dutch lawmaker Camiel Eurlings and a draft resolution attached to the report has led to heated debates among members of the Foreign Affairs Commission at the European Parliament.

Leftist lawmakers criticized the report saying that it aimed to delay the start of negotiations with Turkey.

The report is to be voted on at the General Assembly of the European Parliament at the beginning of December. It has no binding effect, but politically it is significant as it reflects the European public's position ahead of a critical summit of EU leaders on Dec. 17, which will decide whether accession talks with Turkey should start.

Lawmakers from socialist, green and liberal groups criticized the harsh tone of the report during the Foreign Relations Commission session late on Tuesday.

Former French Premier and Socialist lawmaker Michel Rocard described the report as being "unfair and unbalanced." He said the report ignored Turkey's geo-strategical importance and its future contribution to peace and reconciliation between civilizations and religions.

"The start of the negotiations will also help the improvement of human rights and democracy in Turkey," Rocard was quoted as saying by the Anatolia news agency.

Liberal Italian Emma Bonino said the report was "aggressive, unacceptable and embarrassing." The report was written in exaggerated language and she would vote against its current version, she added.

Co-Chairman of the Joint Parliamentary Commission Joost Lagendijk urged the European Union to start entry talks with Turkey.

A general director from the EU Commission who recommended the EU Council on its progress report issued on Oct. 6 to open entry talks with Turkey also criticized the report. Fabitso Barboso reiterated the commission's evaluation that Turkey has sufficiently fulfilled the Copenhagen criteria that were necessary for the starting of negotiations.

In the pro-report camp, some Greek and Christian Democrat lawmakers explained why Turkey should not be allowed to start accession negotiations.

Eurlings said in his report the opening of negotiations would be the starting point of a long process, adding that the process would not in principle nor automatically take Turkey to full membership due to its open- ended nature.

Praising the reforms in Turkey, the report explained that implementation was lacking. Members of the Foreign Affairs Commission are to discuss the report once more next month before it is sent to the General Assembly.