EU Wants Turkey To Explain Withdrawal of Bill | Europe| News and current affairs from around the continent | DW | 18.09.2004
  1. Inhalt
  2. Navigation
  3. Weitere Inhalte
  4. Metanavigation
  5. Suche
  6. Choose from 30 Languages


EU Wants Turkey To Explain Withdrawal of Bill

European Union Enlargement Commissioner Guenter Verheugen on Saturday called on Turkey to clarify its decision to withdraw a key bill reforming its penal code, during talks with Turkey's EU ambassador.


Verheugen has ruled out delaying a crucial EU report on Turkey's progress

"That requires clarification," Verheugen said, warning that failure to pass the bill by October 6 "will have an impact" on a crucial report from the European Commission due out that date on whether to start accession talks with Ankara.

Verheugen strictly ruled out the possibility of delaying next month's report, which is to serve as a basis for EU leaders to decide on December 17 on whether to set a date for the start of EU membership talks with Turkey. "I have no intention, I am strictly against, I don't see any reason why we should delay the report", he told reporters.

Bill a key element of reform process

The Turkish parliament went into recess Saturday until October 1, leaving the crucial penal code reform package in limbo and unlikely to be enacted before the report's release.

EU officials have warned that the bill aimed at overhauling the country's 78-year-old criminal code was a key element of Turkey's efforts to meet European democracy and human rights standards. "So far our assessment was based on the assumption that the penal code would be adopted before the commission makes its decision," Verheugen told reporters. "I have asked the ambassador to get clarification from his government whether and when the penal code will be adopted and whether it will be substantially changed."

The EU will notably seek reassurances that the final text will not include a controversial proposal to criminalize adultery, which was floated by the government this month but later withdrawn amid sharp protests from Brussels. The squabble over the legal status of adultery paralyzed debates on the reform package in the Turkish parliament and left Turkey-EU ties badly shaken.

"It now depends on the answer I will get from Ankara... In any case, that will have an impact, I have to make it very clear," the commissioner stressed. However, Verheugen refused to say whether a failure to adopt the penal reforms would necessarily lead to a negative recommendation from Brussels. "That, I will tell the commission. I will not tell it today," he said.

Turkey committed to reforms

Turkey's ambassador, Oguz Demiralp, meanwhile insisted that Ankara, an EU candidate since 1999, remained committed to its EU-minded reform program.

The "Turkish government and Turkish parliament are very much committed to the continuation of the reform process. Of course all the reforms will be adopted," Demiralp told reporters.

Verheugen, who is a strong supporter of Turkey's EU bid, emphasized that "the problem of the adoption of the penal code ranks prominent" in the debate over Ankara's readiness to join the bloc. "It has to do with the question whether Turkey has already established a rule of law sufficiently and in accordance with European standards and... whether fundamental rights and freedoms

are properly implemented and respected in Turkey."

"Therefore the penal code is really an essential part of the process of political reforms in Turkey," Verheugen added.

DW recommends