By Martin Banks - 30th March 2012
Turkey is still lagging behind
British centre right MEP Marina Yannakoudakis has told parliament that Turkey is 'not ready' for EU accession.
Yannakoudakis, a Conservative member, was speaking during a debate in the mini plenary in Brussels on Thursday on possible Turkish accession.
She was among numerous members who voted against continuing negotiations on Turkey’s membership of the EU in a debate and vote on the progress Turkey is making towards EU accession.
The debate and vote are topical as Turkey has threatened to withdraw cooperation with the incoming Cyprus presidency of the EU in the second half of this year.
Despite protracted negotiations, the long running Cyprus problem remains unresolved and Ankara is known to be becoming increasingly inpatient at the lack of progress on reunifying the holiday island which has been divided between the Turkish-run north and Greek south since 1974.
In the plenary discussion, Yannakoudakis also said that Turkey "needs to make progress" in the areas of women's rights, the treatment of minorities and relations with the Republic of Cyprus.
The ECR member said, "Turkey still has a long way to go before it meets the criteria to become a member of the EU. Until Turkey makes the necessary improvements, I cannot support its accession to the EU."
"Turkey is still lagging behind when it comes to equality between men and women."
"Turkey must do more to protect the rights of minority communities, especially the Kurds. Kurds must be allowed to be educated in their own language and have the freedom to use Kurdish in the political arena."
"The country's foreign minister has indicated that Turkey will refuse to work with the Cypriot presidency of the EU from 1 July.
"Any country that does not recognise one of the member states is not a suitable candidate for membership."
She went on, "Turkey is still lagging behind when it comes to equality between men and women. The rigid role which women play in Turkish society means lower participation by women in the workplace, politics and civil society.
"Worse still, attacks against women are commonplace, and the authorities are too lenient on the perpetrators of gender-based violence. More women's shelters are needed in order to protect the vulnerable.
"Turkey must work harder to eradicate the practice of honour killings, with dozens of Turkish women murdered each year. I also call on Turkey to criminalise forced marriages.
"Turkish women are still less educated than their male counterparts, and there needs to be a special focus on rural women, especially with regard to literacy. Three million rural Turkish women remain illiterate.
"Kurdish women in particular are disadvantaged by the double burden of being women and Kurds. I call on the commission to put women’s rights at the forefront of negotiations with Turkey."