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Turkey Not Ready for EU Membership, Say MEPs

The European Parliament on Thursday voted with an overwhelming majority in favor of a report saying that Turkey is not yet ready to start EU membership talks.

The European Parliament on April 1 voted with an overwhelming majority (211 to 84) in favor of a report saying that Turkey is not yet ready to start EU membership talks. The Members of Parliament (MEPs) said that while Turkey has made many important reforms since last year in order to meet the political criteria for EU membership, it still needs to implement the reforms in many areas. They directed a range of criticisms against the country -- including the continued influence of the army in politics, the continuing torture practices and the discrimination of religious minorities. They also raised the question of whether the European Union can absorb such a large and relatively poor country. The report is crucial to the future of Turkey. In October, the European Commission will submit a final report for member states to decide in December whether Ankara has achieved the political credentials for starting accession negotiations. Although the European Parliament's report is not legally binding, it will send a negative political signal to Turkey. However, the country still has some strong backing from influential member states, particularly Germany and Britain. The key question is likely to be whether France will support Turkish membership. Admittance of the mainly Muslim country to the EU is set be one of the biggest political issues this year and is already on the way to becoming a hot topic in some countries during the campaign for European elections in June. (EUobserver.com)

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