EU Commissioner doubts Turkey's commitment to Europe

EU Commissioner doubts Turkey's commitment to Europe

PanARMENIAN.Net - The European Union's top enlargement official stepped up criticism of controversial government steps over the past months on Thursday, saying they had created doubts about Turkey's commitment to Europe, according to Today's Zaman.

“As commissioner for enlargement, I must admit that events over the past three months have cast doubt on Turkey's commitment to European values and standards,” the EU's enlargement commissioner, Stefan Füle, said at a EU-Turkey Joint Parliamentary Committee (JCM) meeting at the European Parliament (EP).

The EU, which Turkey aspires to join, has expressed criticism over a series of government measures in the wake of a corruption investigation that broke out with a wave of detentions on Dec 17, 2013. The dozens of people detained, all of whom were subsequently released, included sons of now-former ministers and businessmen and officials close to the government. The government characterized the probe as a “coup attempt,” which it blamed on the Hizmet movement of Turkish-Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen and its foreign collaborators and reassigned thousands of police officers as well as dozens of judges and prosecutors in what was seen to be an attempt to stifle the investigation.

Füle lamented that the developments in Turkey's accession process over the past months were a “cause for concern and disappointment.” He condemned the transfers of police officers, judges and prosecutors, saying they “constitute a risk to the proper conduct of investigations into alleged corruption” and urged Turkey to “take all the necessary measures to ensure that allegations of wrongdoing are addressed in a transparent and impartial manner.”

Füle criticized the HSYK (Supreme Board of Judges and Prosecutors) and Internet laws. “On the judiciary, the new legislation transferred significant powers over the High Council of Judges and Prosecutors to the Ministry of Justice. This development reverses a previous reform elaborated in consultation with the European Union and the Council of Europe [CoE]. The changes raise serious concerns over the independence and impartiality of the judiciary and over the separation of powers in Turkey,” he said of the HSYK law.

Commenting on the Internet law, he slammed the new legislation on the basis of concerns over the freedom of expression. “I regret that the new law on the Internet gives arbitrary power to the telecommunications authority (TIB). The lack of sufficient protection or legal safeguards of the affected parties is also worrying. The recent ban on social media proves that these concerns are justified,” he said.

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