06/11/2007 - Socialists set out demands on reform in Turkey.The European Parliament Socialist Group today, 6 November 2007, stepped up its demands for renewal of the reform process in Turkey, following a critical report by the European Commission.
Key Socialist demands included repeal of a controversial law on insulting Turkishness, which has led to legal action against major authors, and military withdrawal from Cyprus in return for financial aid from the EU and direct trade with Northern Cyprus.
Socialist Group spokesmen on a parliamentary report on Turkey – Jan Marinus Wiersma and Hannes Swoboda – said today:
"We share the disappointment of the European Commission at the slowdown in reform in Turkey. This was understandable, up to a point, in the past election year. But now that Mr Erdogan has a strong mandate, he should seize this opportunity to restore the reform process.
"Article 301, which is the law on insulting Turkishness, should be abolished as soon as possible.
"As far as the Kurdish question is concerned, the conflict with the PKK in the south east of the country and in the Iraqi border area should not be a reason to slow the reform process. This problem cannot be invoked as an alibi for failing to find a peaceful solution within Turkey for the Kurdish question.
"In the past, Mr Erdogan has described the Kurdish issue as a political, economic and social question. He should continue on that track and not turn it into a purely military or political issue.
"The Socialist Group will continue to fight for full implementation of the EU promise for financial aid and direct trade for Northern Cyprus. But Turkey has to fulfil its promises and should be ready in the event of a solution to withdraw its troops from Northern Cyprus."