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Turkey has drawn praise from the Council of  Europe or its recent judicial moves to allow citizens to apply directly to the country’s highest court ahead of a European-wide convention of constitutional court judges.

The conference will have an “emphasis on the recent experience of the Turkish Constitutional Court and provide a forum for an exchange of best practices of individual petition systems in Europe,” a statement from the Council of Europe said prior to the July 7 meeting in Strasbourg to discuss judges’ increasing role in preventing and remedying violations of the European Convention on Human Rights.
“Different approaches to individual complaint mechanisms in the member states will also be explored,” the statement added. Continue Reading »

As a former Turkish diplomat, who worked tirelessly for his country to join the European Union (EU) at some point, I do not take pleasure in saying that this ambitious federal project is not going anywhere and that, after all, it may not be worth becoming a member in the foreseeable future of this exclusive club, once viewed as a golden prize for candidate countries.

Clearly, the EU project is not progressing in its current form the way it was designed by its founding fathers. All ambitious blueprints and goals often remain on paper and detached from reality on the ground. Yes, the “European integration movement” has gone through its cycle of ups and downs in history – two steps forward, one step back, like the Janissary Band’s (Mehter) March. This time around, there are even fewer signs that its success will follow the gloomy years we have experienced over the past decade or so. Continue Reading »

Turkey would find it very hard to continue in a customs union with Europe if the country is excluded from a free trade deal with the United States, but quitting the union is not an option, Economy Minister Nihat Zeybekci said May 15.

Turkey is pressing to be included in the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) being negotiated between the United States and the European Union, which would cut tariffs and harmonize regulations in the world’s biggest economic blocs.  Continue Reading »

Turkey’s leaders have raised question marks about the future of the fundamental values on which the European Union was founded while still emphasizing that full membership in the union remains a strategic desire of the country.

“Today, the European Union is facing changes in the international system as well as the impact of the global economic crisis,” President Abdullah Gül said May 9, suggesting the EU might move away from its founding philosophy if the right decisions were not made.

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A leading European Commission official has urged the Turkish government to stop attacking the European Union and engage more deeply in cooperation.

Stefano Manservisi, who was recently named the new head of the EU Delegation to Turkey, called the relationship between the bloc and Turkey “extremely strong” in financial and political terms as well as in the “people dimension.” However, the Italian said he finds recent anti-EU remarks from Turkish politicians “concerning.”  Continue Reading »

Despite strong criticisms raised by the European Union over the Turkish government’s recent legal regulations and bans on social media which violate the union’s core values, including the separation of powers, the rule of law and freedom of speech, the EU is unwilling to shelve Turkey’s membership though it may adopt a harsher stance.

“Legal amendments and bans may cause Turkey to backtrack in its EU bid by slowing down the negotiation process. However, there are also constructive voices within the EU who reject leaving Turkey alone. I expect the membership process to continue in spite of all obstacles,” Özgür Ünlühisarcikli, director of the German Marshall Fund (GMF), said in remarks to Sunday’s Zaman on Thursday.
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A few years ago, Turkey was the rising power of the Middle East, content to turn away from closer ties with Europe towards its Sunni allies. But with chaos in Syria and Egypt, its fortunes have changed drastically.

Following a string of setbacks that has left it increasingly isolated in Europe and the Middle East, Turkey has started a push to repair ties with key neighbors and partners.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who met top EU officials in Brussels this week for the first time in five years, is also due to visit neighboring Iran next week. One day before he flies to Tehran, on Jan. 28, Erdogan will host French President Francois Hollande, whose country has been one of the actors slowing down Turkey’ process of joining the EU. Continue Reading »

European Union officials have called on Turkey to respect the principles of the rule of law and separation of powers as well as the independence of the judiciary in Turkey, while hosting Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan on his first visit to Brussels after five years.

In a joint news conference after meeting Erdogan earlier on Tuesday, EU Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso stated: “Whatever the problems are in Turkey, solutions should respect the separation of powers and rule of law. The issues can be addressed within the limits of EU standards.”

Barroso also added that Prime Minister Erdogan told him earlier of his intention to take further steps to meet EU criteria on certain issues.
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Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan gave assurances to the European Union to respect the rule of law, judicial independence and the separation of powers amid the government’s move to draft a controversial judicial bill in response to an ongoing graft probe.

“We have followed the events closely, and I have today relayed the European concerns to Prime Minister Erdogan as an honest friend and partner. I was quite happy during the discussion because Prime Minister Erdogan, in a very frank and open manner, addressed all the issues and gave us reassurances,” European Commission head Jose Manuel Barroso said during a press statement in Brussels Jan. 21.
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Turkey’s embattled Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan began his first visit to Brussels in five years Tuesday aiming to reboot his country’s stuttering bid to embrace the European Union.

Erdogan’s long-awaited high-profile visit to EU headquarters comes as Turkey faces its worst crisis in years amid a graft scandal and subsequent government purge of police and the judiciary, seen by critics as an authoritarian bid to stifle the probe.

Yet on flying in from Ankara late Monday, Turkey’s leader of 11 years was greeted by up to 3,000 supporters waving Turkish flags and shouting their backing for his economic and political reforms. Continue Reading »

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