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Last Updated: Monday, 6 September, 2004, 11:10 GMT 12:10 UK
EU sees Turkish reform progress
By Jonny Dymond
BBC Istanbul correspondent

Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul (left) and EU's Guenter Verheugen
Turkey's drive for EU membership is gaining momentum
The EU's Enlargement Commissioner, Guenter Verheugen, has said that "the moment of truth" is coming in relation to Turkey's membership bid with the EU.

He was speaking after the first of his meetings on a three-day tour of Turkey.

In early October the EU Commission will issue a report on Turkey's suitability for membership. Its constitutional and judicial reforms are under scrutiny.

Mr Verheugen, in cheerful mood, applauded the reforms that Turkey has made over the past three or four years.

He said that under the new government, co-operation with the EU had quickened. He was speaking after a meeting with the Turkish Foreign Minister, Abdullah Gul.

This is Mr Verheugen's last trip to Turkey as commissioner responsible for enlargement.

Demand for reforms

Sweeping reforms of the constitution and penal code have already been made. Mr Verheugen said that it was important that they should continue.

The Commission's job is to make sure that Turkey conforms with the political criteria laid down by the EU as a precondition for membership. There is much focus now on how the reforms are being implemented.

Mistreatment of those in police custody was one concern that many held about Turkey.

Mr Verheugen said that he would listen closely to what people had to say when he visited Diyarbakir in the south-east of the country. But he said that it was his understanding that torture was no longer being used systematically by the police.

This may not seem like a great step forward. Human rights groups have reported that mistreatment of prisoners is still widespread.

But Mr Verheugen's comments are an indication of both how much things appear to have changed and of how positively the Commission views Turkey's efforts to reform.




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