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Turkey ‘an inspiration’ for Arab Spring 25 novembre 2011

Posted by Acturca in Middle East / Moyen Orient, Turkey / Turquie, Turkey-EU / Turquie-UE.
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Public Service Europe.com (UK) 25 November 2011

by Daniel Mason

Turkey is a « source of inspiration » for many in the Middle East and North Africa who aspire to a modern democratic society – European Parliament president Jerzy Buzek said in a speech to Turkish lawmakers yesterday, as he called on the country to help stabilise the region in the wake of the Arab Spring.

He welcomed the solidarity shown by Turkey to opponents of President Bashar al-Assad in Syria, where according to the United Nations 3,500 protesters have been killed by the regime.

Turkish foreign minister Ahmet Davutoglu has said patience is « running out over the bloodshed » and Turkey is likely to support the Arab League in imposing sanctions if Syria does not allow outside observers into the country. More than 20,000 Syrian refugees and opposition groups have been given shelter by Ankara.

Buzek highlighted the role played by Turkish Prime Minister’s Recep Erdogan when he became the first Muslim leader to demand that Egypt’s former president Hosni Mubarak step down in the face of widespread protests.

« In recent months your leadership has stressed Turkey’s support for the struggle for freedom across North Africa and the Middle East, » Buzek said. « Many in the Middle East regard you as a source of inspiration of a successfully modernising society. »

Meanwhile, Buzek said Turkey’s accession negotiations with the European Union had been « in a stalemate for many months » and a solution to the dispute over Cyprus would « bring a welcome boost ». He called on Turkey to support the talks between the Greek and Turkish communities under the auspices of the UN secretary general.

« A fair and viable settlement of the Cyprus issue on the basis of a bi-communal, bi-zonal federation with political equality, as set out in the relevant UN security council resolutions, is now urgent. »

A resolution should be found before Cyprus takes over the rotating presidency of the EU in July 2012, Buzek said. Turkey applied to join the EU in 1987 but since formal negotiations began in 2005 its application has been bogged down amid opposition from countries including France.

The president emphasised the « extraordinarily strong » links between the EU and Turkey – 50 per cent of Turkish trade and 80 per cent of foreign direct investment is reliant on the EU. The Nabucco pipeline, which passes through Turkey and is part of European efforts to diversify its gas supply away from Russia, « remains one of our highest energy security priorities », Buzek said. He defined Turkey’s role as « our energy corridor for Caucasian and Caspian oil and gas resources ».

He said he strongly supported Turkey’s efforts to write a new civilian constitution to « cement » the country’s democracy. « It will help transform Turkish society into a pluralistic democracy with human rights and fundamental freedoms at its core. » Buzek welcomed progress in reforming the judiciary and civilian oversight of the military.

But he urged Turkey to speed up the pace of reform and said the EU was particularly concerned about the freedom of expression and religion, and the rights of minorities. According to the Turkish Journalists Union there are at least 63 journalists currently in prison.

Raising the issue of Turkey’s Kurdish population, Buzek said: « Europe and the world need a united, democratic and dynamic Turkey. »

Following two recent earthquakes in Van province which killed more than 600 people, Buzek offered condolences and said the EU « would be there to help you where it can ». He added: « The earthquake also gave me hope. I was deeply moved by the solidarity for the inhabitants of Van, by the aid packages sent by fellow citizens, but also the convoys of volunteers who drove hundreds of kilometres across the country to help the survivors. »

He said: « The EU needs Turkey. I believe Turkey needs the EU. Let us make our win-win strategy even better. »

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