Monday, February 11, 2008

MEP warns Turkey time running out

11 February 2008
BBC News

Protesters say the planners behind the killing are still at large. A senior Euro MP has said that the EU is losing patience with Turkey over its promise to change its controversial law restricting freedom of speech. Joost Lagendijk, joint head of the parliament's Turkey committee, was speaking as a court heard the case of murdered journalist Hrant Dink.

Mr Dink had been convicted under a law which bans "insulting Turkishness".

The MEP said Turkey's leaders had repeatedly promised to overturn the law and it was now time for them to act.

The EU opened talks on Turkish membership in 2005 but there have been repeated concerns about Ankara's willingness to make the necessary changes to its laws.

"We have to take ourselves seriously," Mr Lagendijk told the BBC News website.

"We're preparing a report for the European Parliament which will be voted on in April and if nothing has moved by then on freedom of expression, the report will be negative."

Article 301 of Turkey's penal code was used against Hrant Dink after he described the mass killings of Armenians in 1915-1917 as genocide.

A 17-year-old has confessed to his killing and another 18 people have gone on trial as associates. But there are claims that the real figures who planned the killing are not on trial.

Two days after Ankara relaxed the law banning Islamic headscarves in universities, Mr Lagendijk said he feared a public outcry over the decision would be used by the government as an argument against pushing through further reform.

"They've opened a Pandora's box and nobody is quite sure where it will end," he said.

Note: Above are excerpts from the article. The full article appears here. Clarifications and comments by me are contained in {}. Deletions are marked by [...]. The bold emphasis is mine.



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