Turkey gets mixed report card from EU

Oct. 16, 2013 at 10:32 AM

BRUSSELS, Oct. 16 (UPI) -- The Turkish government is commended for work on resolving issues with the Kurdish minority though the political climate is polarized, the European Union said.

Turkey aspires to a closer relationship with the European Union. The EU said it was mindful of reforms needed for improved ties, notably steps taken to resolve issues with the Kurdish minority.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan in September unveiled a sweeping package of reforms Monday meant to resolve the 30-year conflict. Among his reforms were concessions for the Kurdish language and a reversal on the ban of traditional headscarves for women.

The EU said, however, the political climate in Turkey is "marked by polarization." This was exemplified in nation-wide protest early this year, which the EU said was largely a reaction to a democracy "relying exclusively on parliamentary majority, rather than a participative process in which all voices are heard."

Amnesty International published a 53-page report Oct. 2 on allegations of the excessive use of police force during this year's unrest. The organization said demonstrators were denied their right to peaceful assembly through the use of intimidation.

The EU said its mixed assessment underlined "the importance for the EU to enhance its engagement with Turkey on fundamental rights."

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