Turkey's EU minister urges EU to be 'fair' on 2013 progress report

The European Parliament approved the 2013 progress report on Turkey with 475 votes in favor and 153 against amid debates over recent developments in the country’s judiciary and politics.

The European Parliament approved the 2013 progress report on Turkey with 475 votes in favor and 153 against amid debates over recent developments in the country’s judiciary and politics.

IZMIR - Turkey's EU minister has called on the EU to be "fair towards Turkey, to make fair criticisms and not to ignore positive developments" in the country, following the European Parliament's (EP) 2013 progress report on Turkey approved on Wednesday. 

"Let's be fair towards Turkey and make fair criticisms and let's not ignore positive developments in Turkey," Mevlut Cavusoglu told reporters in the western Izmir province of Turkey.  

The EP approved the 2013 progress report on Turkey amid debates over recent developments in the country’s judiciary and politics, with 475 votes in favor and 153 votes against.

Turkey has embarked on reform for the benefit of its own citizens, said EU rapporteur on Turkey, Ria Oomen-Ruijten. However, recent developments in the area of fundamental freedoms, independence of the judiciary, freedom of expression and others are however a cause of grave concern for the EU, she said. 

"We now need a serious, constructive dialogue with Turkey on these subjects and Turkey needs to show true commitment to its European aspirations and to the values upon which the EU is founded," Oomen-Ruijten said. 

The report criticizes recent amendments on the Turkish judiciary law and Internet regulation which came after December 17 anti-graft operations, decried by the government as a "dirty plot" set in motion by a "parallel state," which is nestled within the country's police department and judiciary.

It also criticizes the government for tending to rely exclusively on its parliamentary majority to pass laws and decisions, noting the excessive use of force by the police in handling the wave of anti-government protests which erupted last summer.

"We carry on the path of Turkey's EU membership process along with the EU as two equal partners and we [Turkey] have demands from the EU, too," Cavusoglu said. "We wish the EU to pay attention to our demands."

Cavusoglu also called on the EU to take "concrete steps" to open new chapters for Turkey's EU entry. 

He said Turkey has carried out most of the criteria to enter the EU, but the so-called chapters were blocked by some EU member states. 

So far, only 14 negotiating chapters have been opened while 16 remain blocked because of the ongoing dispute over Cyprus between the Turkish and Greek Cypriots. 

Cavusoglu said there were both "realistic criticisms" and criticisms that are "not based on reality" in the report. 

He criticized the EU for not mentioning some of the developments in Turkey in the report, referring the abolishment of specially authorized courts.

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