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Last Updated: Wednesday, 27 September 2006, 16:04 GMT 17:04 UK
New EU warning on Turkey reforms
EU and Turkish flags
Turkey faces years of tough EU membership negotiations
The European Parliament has adopted a report warning that the pace of reform in Turkey has slowed, jeopardising Ankara's EU membership bid.

But MEPs dropped a clause demanding that Turkey recognise as "genocide" the mass killings of Armenians in 1915.

Turkey maintains that the Armenians were casualties of turmoil as the Ottoman empire crumbled. Armenians say up to 1.5 million died in a "genocide".

The non-binding report said Turkey had failed to ensure freedom of expression.

It called for the abolition or amendment of Turkish laws such as Article 301 "which threaten European free speech norms".

Article 301 of the Turkish penal code has been used to prosecute several well-known authors for "insulting Turkishness".

Cyprus deadlock

The MEPs also called on Turkey to recognise the Republic of Cyprus and lift its embargo on Cypriot ships and planes, saying continued failure to do so "will have serious implications for the [EU] negotiation process and could even bring it to a halt".

The report was adopted by 429 votes in favour to 71 against, with 125 abstentions.

It said the European Parliament "regrets the slowing down of the reform process" in Turkey, though it welcomed some recent Turkish steps to crack down on torture and corruption and to extend women's rights.

On the Armenian question, MEPs said Turkey must come to terms with its past, although recognition of the "genocide" was not a condition for EU accession.

The European Commission is to publish its next annual report on Turkey's progress on 8 November.

The parliament's report came a day after Bulgaria and Romania were given the go-ahead to join the EU on 1 January 2007.

In Ankara, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned the EU against introducing any new entrance criteria.


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