|Series Title||European Voice|
|Series Details||02/11/95, Volume 1, Number 07|
THE fate of Turkey's customs union with the European Union now lies in the hands of the European Parliament.
After formally clearing the last negotiating hurdles earlier this week, EU foreign ministers warned the assembly not to jeopardise the union, planned for next January, which they said was of “strategic, political and economic importance”.
Parliament is due to vote in December on the customs union, which would give Turkey full access to EU markets.
Parliament's foreign affairs committee was this week divided over whether to delay the vote until after Turkish elections, also planned for December. Rapporteur Carlos Carnero Gonzalez asked the committee to consider whether the assembly could compromise, given Ankara's recent reforms. Many, however, said they would not retreat from their demand for full human rights in Turkey.
The Parliament has not lifted its threat to veto the union, saying it is unsatisfied with recent changes to Turkey's constitution. The infamous Article 8, which deals with treason and separatist movements, has been amended to reduce the maximum prison sentence from five to three years and to force the court to prove the defendant intended to challenge Turkey's territorial integrity.
But MEPs say the law, used to imprison writers, lawyers and politicians, has been only superficially changed and does not meet the Parliament's requirements. They also argue that several Turkish parliamentarians remain in jail, despite the recent release of some deputies which was seen as a move to appease European critics.
During their meeting with Turkish Foreign Minister Coskun Kirca on Monday (30 October), EU ministers declared Turkey had fulfilled the legal and technical alterations needed to launch the customs union. They also approved a financial aid package of some three billion ecu in grants and loans to compensate Turkey for losses it may incur when it lowers its tariff barriers to incoming EU goods.
|Subject Categories||Trade, Values and Beliefs|
|Countries / Regions||Turkey|