EU leaders urge Turkish reform

UK foreign secretary says a "stable" Turkey is in EU's interest after AK party's win.

    Supporters with a flag portraying Recep Tayyip Erdogan celebrate the AK party's victory [AFP] 

    French objections

    Ursula Plassnik, the Austrian foreign minister, said everyone was "interested in having a modern, dynamic, successful Turkey as a partner [for the EU]. We expect the government... to continue with even more ambition".

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    Reports on the country's parliamentary elections

    The EU, while divided over whether Turkey should one day join the EU, continues to spur Ankara to continue reforms to keep its membership bid on track.

    However, entry negotiations launched two years ago are on a slow-track due to objections from Nicolas Sarkozy, France's president, who opposes Turkey's bid to join.

    Entry is also hampered by Turkey's refusal to recognise EU member Cyprus.

    Portugal, which holds the EU presidency, has said it would try to keep entry talks with Turkey on track in the months ahead.

    Human rights

    Dora Bakoyannis, Greek's foreign minister, said she hoped reform efforts will continue "with greater zeal" under the AK party led by Recep Tayyip Erdogan's, the Turkish prime minister.

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    In a joint statement with Wilfried Martens, who heads the European People's Party, the EU's centre-right political bloc, Bakoyannis said Ankara had to live up to certain expectations.

    The statement said: "We stress that Turkey will be expected to comply with the institutional, political and economic elements of the EU.

    "Respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, including the rights of minorities, are basic elements of this process."

    Jose Manuel Barroso, the European Commission president, welcomed Erdogan's success.

    Barroso said Erdogan "has given his personal commitment to the sustained movement towards."

    Secular pledge

    Thousands of supporters gathered outside the AK party's headquarters in the capital Ankara on Sunday to celebarate what was a resounding victory.

     

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    With more than 99 per cent of votes counted, television news channels were projecting the party would win 341 of 550 seats, down from 351 in the outgoing parliament.

    In his victory speech, Erdogan pledged to work for national unity and press ahead with membership of the EU
     
    He said: "This is the first time in 52 years that a party in power has increased its votes for a second term. We will continue to work with determination to achieve our European Union goal."
     
    He promised to respect the "basic principles" of a "secular social and democratic republic".
     
    He said: "We will never compromise the basic principles of our republic. These principles are needed for a strong and wealthy Turkey."
     
    The prime minister also stressed the importance of a plurality of "political voices", a promise that is likely to be most tested by Kurdish gains in the elections

    Kurdish gains

    Thirteen years after being kicked out of parliament, Turkey's Kurds staged a hard-won comeback in the election.

    Aysel Tugluk, one of 24 Kurdish politicians who won parliamentary seats, said: "We want to turn a new page. We want to start a process of dialogue and reconciliation in parliament to resolve the (Kurdish) problem.

    "We will not be a source of tension ... we will act in a spirit of tolerance and understanding."

    Beating drums and chanting pro-Kurdish slogans, crowds of people celebrated across the mainly Kurdish southeast of the country as the results of the vote emerged.

    "Ankara, here we come," many shouted.

    The Kurdish candidates had campaigned for a peaceful end to the bloody 23-year conflict between the Kurdistan Workers'  Party (PKK) and the Turkish army, calling on Ankara to abandon military operations against the PKK and broaden Kurdish freedoms.

    However, their party, the Democratic Society Party (DTP) has fuelled mistrust in the capital by refusing to condemn the PKK, which has been labelled a "terrorist group" by Ankara, the EU and the United States.

    Erdogan said bluntly last week that "the DTP will remain under suspicion as long as it does not condemn the PKK as a terrorist organisation."

    SOURCE: Agencies


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