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EU-Turkey: Need to tackle challenges in judicial system

turkey mapBRUSSELS, October 04, 2014 - Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighbourhood Policy Štefan Füle met the Turkish Minister of Justice Bekir Bozdağ in Brussels yesterday, shortly after the release of Turkey's new strategy for EU accession. Commissioner Füle expressed his full appreciation for this working document, in which reforms in the area of fundamental freedom and rule of law received a prominent place.

Commissioner Füle stated that the issues faced by the Turkish judicial system needed to be tackled. He stressed the need to reinforce the independence and impartiality of the judiciary and to step up the fight against corruption. He also underlined that work remained in order to increase the effectiveness of the criminal justice system and the fight against organised crime.

The Commissioner emphasised the need for Turkey to continue to strive for progress with regard to fundamental rights. To that end, he welcomed the adoption this year of an Action Plan aimed at tackling violations of the European Convention of Human Rights. He commented that this had the potential to promote the protection of human rights by addressing long-standing issues relating to the freedom of expression, the protection of minorities and the right to assembly. Commissioner Füle also called on Turkey to engage further in their cooperation with the Commission in the field of the rule of law and fundamental rights.

The upcoming Progress Report, which is to be adopted by the European Commission on 8 October, was also discussed. Commissioner Füle explained that it would provide a balanced account of both positive and negative developments in Turkey on its EU path over the last 12 months. He said that the report would address existing shortcomings and give credit where credit is due.

While concluding their meeting, both parties agreed to continue to cooperate in order to improve the Turkish judicial system. As a first step, a joint working group will be set up to follow-up on the recommendations of the recent peer reviews in the area of judiciary and fundamental rights. Commissioner Füle said he was looking forward to the adoption of Turkey's action plans following the release of the new EU strategy, which he expects will boost EU-Turkey relations further. He also welcomed the intention of the Ministry to increase transparency and inclusiveness in legislative processes.

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European Commission, Brussels

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