Gezi puts its mark on EU Progress Report

Gezi puts its mark on EU Progress Report

The European Union released its progress report on Turkey Oct. 16, with anti-government Gezi protests in June putting a mark on crucial parts of the document, including democracy and the rule of law, financial services and the media, Hurriyet Daily News reported.

The report also highlights a number of important steps taken by Turkey over the past 12 months, notably the adoption of the fourth judicial reform package and the peace process to end militancy and violence in the southeast of the country.

The report, however, said the political climate in Turkey continued to be marked by polarization. "This translated into an understanding of democracy as relying exclusively on a parliamentary majority, rather than a participative process in which all voices are heard, and finally in an uncompromising stance in the face of dissent and a failure to protect fundamental rights and freedoms. This was exemplified in late May and early June, when police used excessive force in response to a major wave of protests," the European Commission said in the report.

"The excessive use of force by police and the overall absence of dialogue during the protests in May/June have raised serious concerns," it added. "This underlines the urgent need for further reforms and the promotion of dialogue across the political spectrum, and in society more broadly, as well as for respect of fundamental rights in practice."

The commission said Turkey had launched a number of investigations into police conduct during the protests, but stressed that "these should be followed through in accordance with European standards and those responsible [should be] brought to account."

It urged Turkey to push ahead with plans to set up a monitoring mechanism to ensure the independent supervision of police conduct.

In the financial spectrum, it stated with concern that the new Capital Markets Board had launched a large-scale investigation concerning foreign investors' transactions at the stock exchange during the Gezi incidents, with a view to detecting market manipulations.

The report also criticized government attacks on media freedom. "The Supreme Council of Radio and Television (RTÜK) fined a number of television stations for providing live coverage of the so-called Gezi Park protests on the basis of incitement to violence," it said.

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