Govt works out plan to open new chapters in Turkey's EU talks
The government has laid out a road map to start negotiations on two more chapters of Turkey's accession talks with the European Union. Set to start talks on the chapter on the judiciary and fundamental rights and the one on justice, freedom and security during Spain's term presidency in the first half of next year, the Group for Monitoring the EU Reform Process, made up of Interior Minister Besir Atalay, Justice Minister Sadullah Ergin, Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, and State Minister and chief EU talks negotiator Egemen Bagis, held a meeting in the Black Sea province of Trabzon yesterday to discuss what would be done in the negotiation process in the months to come. Speaking to reporters afterwards, Bagis said they agreed on a 10-step plan focusing on political and judicial reforms to give momentum to the country's EU talks. Under the plan, the government will restart efforts to draft a civil Constitution to replace the current one on the basis of a broad societal consensus. Stating that court-ordered bans on websites such as YouTube under Article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code (TCK) would be ended, Bagis said that the reform monitoring group would be closely following implementation of this article. Stressing the importance of making non-governmental organizations more active across the country, he said that the government would prepare legislation to establish an ombudsman post towards that end. He stressed the government's determination to carry out judicial reforms as soon as possible, adding that election campaign finances would also become more transparent. On government plans to establish a body for human rights issues, Bagis said, "Turkey will continue to fight all forms of discrimination in line with its international obligations by approving an optional UN protocol on the Convention Against Torture." Stating that the government would try to overcome difficulties in implementing European Courts of Human Rights rulings against Turkey, Bagis also pledged that they would do whatever is needed to solve the problems of Turkey's minorities. He also said that a border security department would be established under the Interior Ministry.