Turkish army says yes to joining EU

Turkey's powerful army on Thursday threw its weight behind the country joining the European Union.

    Military gives green signal

    Deputy armed forces chief Yasar Buyukanit said he supported the EU’s criteria for liberal reform in Turkey. 


    The statement was the first reaction by a top general to media reports of military unease over reforms. The Justice and Development Party (AKP) government has prepared the ground for reforms by next year to qualify for EU entry talks.




    Many in the establishment see EU standards demanding the free use of Kurdish as a concession to armed Kurdish rebels.


    EU membership criteria might also force Turkey to ease a strict secular code by allowing, for instance, the wearing by women of Islamic headscarves at state institutions.


    Buyukanit described the reports of military unease as an "unjustified attack" on the military.


    "I want to spell this out in capital letters: The Turkish Armed Forces cannot oppose the European Union, because the EU is a geopolitical and geostrategic obligation...under Mustafa Kemal Ataturk's goal of modernisation," Buyukanit said.


    Ataturk founded the modern Turkish state in 1923, facing it towards the West and removing the influence of religion in politics and law.


    The army remained the principal force in Turkish politics and in the last four decades has ousted three governments.


    Turkish citizenship


    Meanwhile, Ankara's parliament Thursday adopted proposals to grant Turkish Cypriots Turkish nationality.


    Turkish Cypriot politicians:
    easy to turn Turkish now

    Any citizen of the so-called Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) who wants to become a Turkish citizen will need only to submit a request to one of the country's missions abroad or a local authority in Turkey.


    The move comes as thousands of Turkish Cypriots apply for passports issued by the Greek Cypriot southern part of the island, the Republic of Cyprus.


    The Republic is internationally recognised and when it joins the European Union next year holders of its passports will be able to circulate freely in the EU, which will then have 25 member states.


    On April 16 the Republic of Cyprus signed a treaty of EU membership, leaving the TRNC on the margins of Europe.


    Cyprus has been divided since the Turkish army invaded the north of the island in 1974. It has become easier for people living in the Turkish north to apply for passports since travel beteen the two sectors was made easier by the opening of the demarcation line last month.


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