European parliament approves 2008 progress report on Turkey
The European Parliament yesterday approved the 2008 progress report on Turkey's negotiations with the European Union, prepared by Dutch Rapporteur Ria Oomen-Ruijten. In the report, the EP urges Turkish political leaders to "seek serious dialogue" on Turkey's modernization. "The EP calls on Turkish political party leaders to seek serious dialogue and to reach a consensus in a compromising spirit over Turkey's modernization agenda," says the report. "Polarization in Turkish society and between the political parties deepened even further in 2008, which negatively affected the functioning of political institutions and the reform process." The report urged the government to revive work to draft "a new civilian constitution that would place basic freedoms and human rights at its core," saying that the country's political parties and election laws should be amended. The report also cites Turkey as "an important NATO country" and urges consultations with Turkey in devising a joint European security and defense policy. It calls on Turkey to speed up EU reforms, expressing "serious concern over a slowdown in reforms in the last three years." The report also urges the European Council to open chapters in Turkey's membership negotiations on which the European Commission has given the technical green light.