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EU offers support for Turkish reforms

EU offers support for Turkish reforms
Protesters battle riot police in Taksim Square in Istanbul, Turkey on June 11, 2013. Calm returned to the square on June 12, 2013 after the protesters were cleared from the area after two weeks of protests against the modernization of the square that quickly became an anti-government protest. UPI/Nasir Lone | License Photo

BRUSSELS, Nov. 22 (UPI) -- European Union Neighborhood Policy Commissioner Stefan Fule said Friday a $317 million aid package to Turkey would help it with key reform efforts.

"These past weeks have seen positive developments in EU-Turkey relations, and I hope this renewed support will help foster further reforms that will contribute to the progress in the accession process," he said in a statement.

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The European Commission said Friday the funding would help Turkey build an "independent, impartial and efficient" judicial system and strengthen the efficiency of law enforcement institutions.

Turkey aspires to a closer relationship with the EU. The latest phase of accession talks -- Chapter 22, dealing with regional policy -- began Nov 5.

The EU welcomed Turkish efforts to settle longstanding issues with the Kurdish minority but expressed concern over polarization in the political environment.

Fule told a women's conference in Istanbul in early November that Turkey is behind its European counterparts when it comes to the role of women in politics. He called for closing the gender gap, noting 1 percent of the Turkish municipalities have a female mayor.

Nationwide protests in Turkey this year were described by the EU as a reaction to a democracy "relying exclusively on parliamentary majority, rather than a participative process in which all voices are heard."

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