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Archive for Sunday, September 19, 2004

Adultery legislation may delay Turkey’s EU entry

September 19, 2004

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— Turkey's parliament adjourned Saturday without passing a key reform package because of divisions over the government's proposal to make adultery a crime, bringing warnings from the European Union that delays could hurt Turkey's chances of membership.

The European Union must make an assessment by Oct. 6 of Turkey's progress in meeting conditions for beginning the membership process. The assessment is part of the preparations for a Dec. 17 summit in Brussels, Belgium, where Turkey is hoping to get a date to start accession talks.

EU Commission spokesman Jean-Christophe Filori told Turkish media that failure to pass the penal reforms by Oct. 6 would be viewed negatively when assessing Turkey's progress in meeting the bloc's conditions to start membership talks.

Parliament will reconvene Oct. 1, but that leaves the government with a very narrow window to pass the package, which includes hundreds of amendments such as increasing prison terms for human traffickers. Few expect the package to be passed in time.

The proposal banning adultery was included in the package in an apparent attempt by Prime Minister Recep Erdogan to placate conservative Islamic leaders, who are a key support for his government. But it raised opposition from the EU and angered women's groups, who fear it will be used mainly to punish women.

Erdogan chided Filori for urging Turkey to drop the adultery provision and speed up passage of the reforms.

"Nobody has a right to meddle in our internal affairs and the operation of our parliament," Erdogan said, adding that Turkey already had fulfilled conditions to start membership talks.

Turkey's parliament began debating the package in an extraordinary session this week.

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