Turkey further from EU accession than in 2007, Swoboda says


Date posted: May 12, 2014

 

Cansu ÇAMLIBEL

Turkey is further away from European Union membership today than it was seven years ago, Hannes Swoboda, leader of the Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament, has said, voicing concerns over judicial independence in the country.

“It is a long-term process. We are further away from the accession than perhaps seven years ago. But that does not mean you are totally away from it. This is the process; you get closer, then you get far away a bit … at the moment, we are a bit far away,” Swoboda told daily Hürriyet on the sidelines of a conference titled “International Symposium on Justice and Rule of Law” held in Istanbul last week for the first time. “For the short term, we are in a very critical situation. But we cannot give up the long-term aims.”

In the last two years, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has changed and has rolled back some reforms that were significant for the EU, according to Swododa.

“When Erdoğan came to power, he started some reforms, speaking about a Kurdish solution, pushing back the military to its corner internally and changing the criminal code. These were the moments when we thought ‘OK, we are moving forward.’ But then in the last two years, Erdoğan started to like power too much and attack judicial institutions. This is pulling back some of the reforms we were defending,” said Swoboda, recalling that the Turkish government’s new legislation transferred significant powers over the High Council of Judges and Prosecutors (HSYK) to the Justice Ministry, a development reversing previous reforms.

He said Europe and Turkey had to work for accession. “We have to convince our citizens in our countries that Turkish membership would be good,” Swoboda said on Europeans’ side. For Turkey’s part, it should do “a real constitutional reform” and realize “decentralization,” he added.

“You can’t keep such a big country together with populations including the Kurdish one in a unitary state. It is one of the issues, but there are many other issues concerning democratic reforms,” said Swoboda.

He also said center-right European politicians could cease supporting Turkey’s accession process in the near future, predicting that there would be more extremist parties in the European Parliament after the elections. “The danger is that some right-wing parties could move away from the enlargement and Turkey issue because they are afraid that they could be eaten up by the extremists. The effect will not be immediate, but we might see the influence over the center right,” Swoboda said.

Swoboda voiced concern over Erdoğan’s recent steps to limit the independence of the judiciary.

“There are some developments in the domestic scene concerning the independence of the judiciary, concerning the question of individual rights and the attempt to close Twitter and YouTube. These are symbols. We, in Europe, are concerned about this trend. We see some positive developments in Erdoğan’s policy on the Kurdish issue, the Armenian issue and other areas. But domestically, we have some serious doubts,” he said.

Swoboda said the main problem in the judicial system in Turkey was the government’s move to
reshuffle officials from the judiciary and police on the grounds that they were members of Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen’s movement.

“The main problem is that there are severe accusations from Erdoğan against the Gülen movement over infiltrating the judiciary and the police. He is using this argument to change a lot of personalities in the judiciary and police, trying to restrict the independence of the Constitutional Court and the HSYK. Therefore, we fear for the independence of justice,” he said.

Swoboda said the Gülen movement alone was not to blame, even if it has infiltrated the judiciary and police institutions, noting that the prime minister must have had a role in such a period.

“If they had the chance to infiltrate, they could only do it when Erdoğan came to power. Maybe somebody very close to the movement opened the doors for them to the administration. Now the government is going against them without [stating] the necessary transparency,” he said, adding that Erdoğan was afraid of revealing when and how members of the Gülen movement attained top positions in the judiciary and the police since he aided them in their rise.

He also said judges must reveal whether all the officials reassigned and dismissed from their profession were members of the Gülen movement and involved in any coup attempt against the government.
“If you mistrust the judicial system, then you will have to invite judges and lawyers from outside to look into it objectively without being bound by anything,” he said.

He also defined the last two years of Erdoğan’s leadership as “autocratic,” creating enemies outside and inside the country to control the people.

“He is an autocrat. The language he uses is the typical language of an autocrat,” he said, likening Erdoğan’s rule to Viktor Orban in Hungary while also differentiating it from President Bashar al-Assad’s rule in Syria.

Source: Hurriyet Daily , May 12, 2014


Related News

Extradition of Turkish Citizens: Moldova to pay 125,000 euros in damages for rights violations

Almost one year has passed since seven Turkish citizens working at a high school were extradited from the Republic of Moldova. Since then, their case was brought before the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) and Moldova was forced to pay 125,000 euros in damages for rights violations.

State government in Baden Wurttemberg in constructive dialogue with Hizmet volunteers

The nine-item inquiry proposed by five CDU (Christian Democratic Union) deputies to Baden Wurttemberg State Assembly has been responded by Ministry of Integration in cooperation with Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Office of the Prime Minister Undersecretary and Ministry of Education. Through the answers, the public, once again, has been affirmed that the Turkish-initiated schools have […]

Turkey’s post-coup crackdown moves overseas

In several cases, Turkey has offered to run the seized institutions, although it is expected to face legal challenges. Kimse Yok Mu, which had more than 200,000 volunteers in 100 countries before being forcibly closed after the coup attempt, is understood to be preparing to take the decision to international courts. Joshua Hendrick, an expert on the Gulen movement said Ankara faced a big challenge when it came to stepping into the shoes of its former allies.

German government says Gülen movement not involved in any illegal acts

The German government, led by Chancellor Angela Merkel, has said an extensive assessment of the organizations and foundations of Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen’s movement in Germany failed to identify any evidence of illegal activity, daily Zaman reported.

Kimse Yok Mu team in action in Bosnia

The rains affected 1 million 200 thousand Bosnians. KYM rescue team immediately arrived in the region to reach out to the victims. Kimse Yok Mu Foundation tasked its rescue team ASYA to the flood-ridden Bosnia. The foundation also delivered initially 75 million dollar assistance to the region, troubled with the most disastrous rainfall of the past 120 years.

Now it is time to answer

All Cemaat did was to oppose to the closing of test-preparation centers… The corruption investigation that erupted after, is billed to Cemaat by the PM himself.

Latest News

Crimes Against Humanity in Erdogan’s Turkey

Exiled journalist warns of a genocide in the making in newly released book

Vague terrorism charge used to target supporters of the Gülen movement: UN special rapporteurs

ECtHR urges Albania not to deport Gülen follower to Turkey

Woman detained over links to Gülen movement after giving birth

Formerly Gülen-linked schools in Albania face growing gov’t pressure

Exclusive: Turkey, Kosovo violated fundamental rights of expelled teachers, UN body says

Sacked policeman’s grim death sparks debate on COVID-19 data in Turkish prisons

Dissidents of the Turkish government are living in fear in Canada

In Case You Missed It

Ramadan joy in 110 countries on 5 continents

Islamic scholar Gülen responds to Turkish PM’s ‘lair’ remark in heated row over graft probe

Gülen Movement supports not AK Party but right projects

Muslim Leader Condemns Synagogue Killings

Kimse Yok Mu opens two orphanages, Quran course in Senegal

Erdogan’s Journey – Conservatism and Authoritarianism in Turkey

Deputy denies telling daily Star of Hizmet plot against him

Copyright 2021 Hizmet News