Reform watch group meets in Istanbul
Turkey's Reform Watch Group, established in 2003 to oversee the implementation of European Union-backed legislation, convened on Friday in Istanbul to discuss political reforms aimed at strengthening human rights, democracy, and the rule of law, especially in the wake of public approval of constitutional reforms expected to speed up Turkey's EU membership negotiations. A declaration released after the meeting stated that Turkey would take a stronger stance at the EU negotiating table. The declaration was influenced by the planned amendments to the 1982 Constitution, a product of the 1980 military coup, which were approved by 58 percent of the voting public. Among those attending the Istanbul talks were Chief EU Negotiator Egemen Bagis, Interior Minister Besir Atalay, Justice Minister Sadullah Ergin, Foreign Ministry Undersecretary Feridun Sinirlioglu, and Prime Ministry Undersecretary Efkan Ala.