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PENA MORTE: TURCHIA, SI' PARLAMENTO A ABOLIZIONE 

ANKARA, 2 AGO - Il Parlamento turco ha votato oggi in favore dell'abolizione della pena di morte in tempo di pace.

   La clausola che vieta la pena capitale - approvata con 256 voti contro 162, e un'astensione - fa parte di un piu' ampio pacchetto che verra' successivamente votato nel suo complesso.

Perche' l'abolizione della pena di morte entri effettivamente in vigore, i deputati dovranno approvare nel suo complesso tutto il pacchetto di riforme democratiche - essenziali per far progredire la candidatura della Turchia all'adesione all'Unione europea - cosa che dovrebbe avvenire entro stasera.

   La Turchia applica di fatto una moratoria della pena capitale del 1984, quando vi furono le ultime esecuzioni. L'abolizione salverebbe la vita al leader curdo Abdullah Ocalan, detenuto in un'isola-fortezza nel Mar di Marmara.

   Prima dell'approvazione della clausola abolizionista, i deputati avevano respinto una mozione mirante a stralciarla dal complesso del pacchetto di riforme.

   Tra gli altri provvedimenti al vaglio del Parlamento figurano la legalizzazione dell'insegnamento e delle trasmissioni radiotelevisive in lingua curda. 

 Secondo l'articolo approvato oggi, la pena di morte e' cancellata dal codice penale di pace, inclusi i condannati per reati di terrorismo, la cui pena sara' commutata nel carcere a vita, senza possibilita', pero', di alcuna grazia o rilascio condizionato.

   Tra questi ultimi casi c'e' quello di Ocalan, il leader del Pkk (che ora di chiama Kadek) condannato a morte nel 1999 per terrorismo e separatismo ed attualmente in prigione nel carcere di Imrali.

   ''Aspettavamo questa decisione. Siamo compiaciuti della abrogazione della pena di morte anche in Turchia'', ha commentato il primo ministro turco Bulent Ecevit, ricordando che il provvedimento era una delle condizioni poste da Bruxelles per l'inizio del negoziato di adesione della Turchia all'Unione europea.

    La pena di morte rimane da oggi in vigore solo per il tempo di guerra e per le ''situazioni di guerra imminente''.

   Il provvedimento approvato oggi dal Parlamento e' il primo articolo di un pacchetto di 14 riforme richieste dall'Ue.

   Dopo la notizia dell'approvazione dell'articolo, la Borsa di Istanbul ha chiuso in rialzo (+1,89) e la lira turca si e' leggermente apprezzata sul dollaro.


ABOLIZIONE PENA DI MORTE IN TURCHIA, COLOSSEO ILLUMINATO

LUCI ACCESE QUESTA SERA E DOMANI, E' LA VENTESIMA VOLTA

ROMA, 2 AGO - Il Colosseo sara' illuminato, questa sera e domani, per celebrare la decisione del Parlamento di Ankara di cancellare la PENA DI MORTE dal codice penale turco in tempo di pace. Lo ha comunicato il Campidoglio.

   E' la ventesima volta che le luci dell' Anfiteatro Flavio si accendono, ha ricordato il Comune, per testimoniare l' impegno di Roma contro le esecuzioni capitali e a sostegno di una moratoria internazionale. La settimana scorsa era stata festeggiata la sospensione di trenta esecuzioni in Guatemala.


TURCHIA: PARLAMENTO VOTA ABROGAZIONE TOTALE PENA MORTE

LA NOTTE EUROPEA DI ANKARA, VOTATI 14 ARTICOLI CRUCIALI

   (di Lucio Leante)

ANKARA, 2 AGO - Il Parlamento turco ha votato Europa. L'Europa ha trovato, infatti, oggi nel Parlamento turco una sua maggioranza diversa da quella di governo e cosi' essa ha  potuto votare in favore della abrogazione totale della pena di morte in tempo di pace.

   MAGGIORANZA EUROPEISTA. Un obbiettivo quest'ultimo che era stato impossibile per il governo presieduto da Bulent Ecevit, bloccato dai veti del partito nazionalista Mhp, e che ha trovato, invece, una maggioranza europeista in Parlamento, dove e' passato con 256 voti (Dsp, Anap, Dyp, Nuova Turchia dell'ex ministro degli Esteri Ismail Cem, parte dei due partiti islamici) contro 162. Hanno votato contro 114 deputati nazionalisti, 27 deputati del partito islamico ''Giustizia e progresso'', sei del Dyp di Tansu Ciller, 2 deputati di Anap del vicepremier Mesut Yilmaz ed altri tre.

   ELEZIONI. Quello che al governo e' stato impossibile fare in anni di diatribe accese, il Parlamento turco lo ha fatto in una sola seduta in vista del popolare obbiettivo Europa e delle elezioni anticipate fissate per il 3 di novembre, quando molti partiti rischiano l'estinzione se non porteranno agli elettori nel carniere la prospettiva europea.

   Cosi' sono stati approvati dal Parlamento altri articoli che aboliscono le restrizioni alla liberta' di espressione (non sara' piu' reato in Turchia criticare le principali istituzioni dello Stato) e la liberta' di associazione (in particolare per quanto riguarda l'associazionismo internazionale) ed altri ancora tutti essenziali per l'accesso in Europa.

   PACCHETTO. Questi articoli, che facevano parte di un pacchetto unico di 14 misure di ''adeguamento'' alle condizioni poste da Bruxelles ad Ankara per dare inizio al negoziato di adesione, attendevano in nottata la conferma nel voto finale sull'intero provvedimento, che gli osservatori, pero', davano per scontata.

   OCALAN. L'abrogazione totale della PENA DI MORTE in tempo di pace (che, pur restando per i crimini di terrorismo, non viene applicata dal 1984) significa in pratica che anche coloro che sono stati condannati a morte per terrorismo, come il leader del Pkk, Abdullah Ocalan, avranno la loro sentenza capitale commutata nel carcere a vita, anche se non potranno sperare nell' amnistia, o in provvedimenti di liberta' condizionate o nella grazia. Finisce cosi' l'incubo del patibolo per Ocalan, che una cospicua parte dell'opinione pubblica turca avrebb voluto vedere impiccato, dato che -secondo valutazioni ufficiali- e' responsabile di ''oltre 30.000 morti'' in 15 anni di lotta armata, condotta dal Pkk, ''in nome del popolo curdo''.

   ECEVIT. Il primo a felicitarsi per il voto parlamentare e' stato il premier Ecevit, ricordando che il suo partito e' stato sempre favorevole all'abrogazione della PENA DI MORTE, anche se il voto rappresenta una sconfitta del suo governo, in quanto non e' stato capace di abolirla, e sua personale, dato che aveva previsto l'impossibilita' di approvare i provvedimenti pro Europa, in caso di elezioni anticipate fissate per il 3 di novembre.

   CONSIGLIO EUROPA. Il Consiglio d'Europa ha accolto con grande favore il voto preliminare del Parlamento turco. ''Se questo voto sara' confermato nel voto finale, sara' un chiaro segnale sull'impegno della Turchia ad  avvicinarsi alla famiglia europea'', ha dichiarato  Walter Schwimmer, segretario generale del Consiglio, che riunisce 44 nazioni.

   La ''notte europea'' del parlamento di Ankara e' una data storica per il cammino della Turchia verso l'Europa, ha commentato un diplomatico europeo nella capitale turca.


Il Resto del Carlino

Pena di morte abolita in Turchia Ocalan è salvo

 

 ANKARA — Il Parlamento turco ha votato oggi in favore dell'abolizione della pena di morte in tempo di pace. La clausola che vieta la pena capitale - approvata con 256 voti contro 162, e un'astensione - fa parte di un più ampio pacchetto che verrà successivamente votato nel suo complesso. Si tratta di riforme democratiche essenziali per far progredire la candidatura della Turchia all'adesione all'Unione europea.

Secondo l'articolo approvato, la pena di morte è cancellata dal codice penale di pace, inclusi i condannati per reati di terrorismo, la cui pena sarà commutata nel carcere a vita, senza possibilità, però, di alcuna grazia o rilascio condizionato. Tra questi ultimi casi c'è quello di Ocalan, il leader del Pkk (che ora di chiama Kadek) condannato a morte nel 1999 per terrorismo e separatismo ed attualmente in prigione nel carcere di Imrali.

A Roma il Colosseo sarà illuminato stasera per celebrare la decisione del Parlamento di Ankara. È la ventesima volta che le luci dell' Anfiteatro Flavio si accendono, ha ricordato il Campidoglio, per testimoniare l'impegno di Roma contro le esecuzioni capitali e a sostegno di una moratoria internazionale.  


  Gazzetta del Sud

«Congratulazioni, decisione storica»

 BRUXELLES – La Commissione europea ha salutato «molto positivamente» il pacchetto di riforme adottato dal Parlamento turco, in particolare l'abolizione della pena di morte, definendolo «un importante segnale della determinazione della maggioranza dei leader politici turchi di procedere verso un allineamento ai valori e agli standard dell'Unione europea». È stato il commissario Ue all'allargamento Gunter Verheugen a dare il benvenuto «alla coraggiosa decisione del Parlamento turco». «Questa decisione non sarebbe stata possibile – aggiunge il commissario Verheugen – senza una chiara prospettiva europea che la Ue ha sviluppato per la Turchia fino dal vertice europeo di Helsinki nel 1999. La decisione turca dimostra anche che la Ue ha ragione ad essere molto ferma per quanto riguarda i diritti umani e la protezione delle minoranze. 

La nostra posizione comincia a pagare». Verheugen aggiunge: «Non cedere su queste questioni fa meglio capire ai nostri partner perché noi difendiamo in modo così forte i nostri valori e a quale punto sono a noi così cari. A questo riguardo, sull'abolizione della pena di morte, senza dubbio, la Turchia è ora dalla nostra parte». Rilevando che il pacchetto di riforme è stato approvato «in tempo record e con una stragrande maggioranza», la Commissione Ue si felicita in particolare per l'abolizione della pena di morte, la concessione di trasmissioni televisive a lingue diverse e dialetti usati tradizionalmente dai cittadini turchi e il miglioramento dell'educazione per le minoranze linguistiche. «Queste riforme sono un passo significativo – è il commento dell'esecutivo – verso una migliore protezione dei diritti umani e dei diritti delle minoranze in Turchia». Il pacchetto di riforme sarà ora «attentamente analizzato per verificarne pienamente l'impatto», rivela Bruxelles precisando che «comunque, molto dipenderà dalla sua implementazione pratica».


Sabato 3 Agosto 2002 

SVOLTA AD ANKARA Turchia, sì all’abolizione della pena di morte

Il Parlamento approva un pacchetto di riforme che avvicinano l’adesione all’Unione europea

ANKARA - Il Parlamento turco ha votato Europa. L'Europa ha trovato, infatti, ieri nel Parlamento turco una sua maggioranza diversa da quella di governo e così essa ha potuto votare in favore della abrogazione totale della pena di morte in tempo di pace. Un obiettivo quest'ultimo che era stato impossibile per il governo presieduto da Bulent Ecevit, bloccato dai veti del partito nazionalista Mhp, e che ha trovato, invece, una maggioranza europeista in Parlamento, dove è passato con 256 voti (Dsp, Anap, Dyp, Nuova Turchia dell'ex ministro degli Esteri Ismail Cem, parte dei due partiti islamici) contro 162. Quello che al governo è stato impossibile fare in anni di diatribe accese, il Parlamento turco lo ha fatto in una sola seduta in vista del popolare obbiettivo Europa e delle elezioni anticipate fissate per il 3 di novembre, quando molti partiti rischieranno l'estinzione se non porteranno agli elettori la prospettiva europea. Così sono stati approvati dal Parlamento altri articoli che aboliscono le restrizioni alla libertà di espressione (non sarà più reato in Turchia criticare le principali istituzioni dello Stato) e la libertà di associazione (in particolare per quanto riguarda l'associazionismo internazionale) ed altri ancora tutti essenziali per l'accesso in Europa. Questi articoli, che facevano parte di un pacchetto unico di 14 misure di «adeguamento» alle condizioni poste da Bruxelles ad Ankara per dare inizio al negoziato di adesione, attendevano in nottata la conferma nel voto finale sull'intero provvedimento. L'abrogazione totale della pena di morte in tempo di pace (che, pur restando per i crimini di terrorismo, non viene applicata dal 1984) significa in pratica che anche coloro che sono stati condannati a morte per terrorismo, come il leader del Pkk, Abdullah Ocalan, avranno la loro sentenza capitale commutata nel carcere a vita, anche se non potranno sperare nell'amnistia, o in provvedimenti di libertà condizionate o nella grazia. Finisce così l'incubo del patibolo per Ocalan, che una cospicua parte dell'opinione pubblica turca avrebbe voluto vedere impiccato, dato che - secondo valutazioni ufficiali - è responsabile di «oltre 30.000 morti» in 15 anni di lotta armata. Il primo a felicitarsi per il voto parlamentare è stato il premier Ecevit, ricordando che il suo partito è stato sempre favorevole all'abrogazione della pena di morte, anche se il voto rappresenta una sconfitta del suo governo, in quanto non è stato capace di abolirla, e sua personale, dato che aveva previsto l'impossibilità di approvare i provvedimenti pro Europa, in caso di elezioni anticipate fissate per il 3 di novembre. Il Consiglio d'Europa ha accolto con grande favore il voto preliminare del Parlamento turco. «Un chiaro segnale sull'impegno della Turchia ad avvicinarsi alla famiglia europea», ha dichiarato Walter Schwimmer, segretario generale del Consiglio, che riunisce 44 nazioni. La «notte europea» del parlamento di Ankara è una data storica per il cammino della Turchia verso l'Europa, ha commentato un diplomatico europeo nella capitale turca. 


Osservatore Romano

TURCHIA In vista dell'avvio dei negoziati per l'adesione all'Unione Europea Abolita la pena capitale

Tutelati i diritti culturali dei curdi ANKARA, 3. Il Parlamento turco ha approvato oggi un pacchetto di riforme - 14 articoli fra cui l'abolizione della pena di morte in tempo di pace e il riconoscimento dei diritti culturali della popolazione curda - che avvicina il Paese agli standard europei in vista di negoziati per l'adesione all'Ue. L'intero pacchetto è stato approvato per alzata di mano, in un voto finale al termine di una sessione cominciata ieri e durata 16 ore, durante la quale i singoli articoli erano stati singolarmente votati e approvati. L'abolizione della pena di morte in tempo di pace era stata ieri il primo articolo approvato. Fra gli altri provvedimenti figurano la trasmissione di programmi radio e tv in lingua curda e l'insegnamento del curdo in corsi privati. 

È stata inoltre ampliata la libertà di espressione e di associazione, limitata la repressione delle manifestazioni pubbliche e sono state introdotte rigide misure sull'immigrazione clandestina. Il pacchetto di riforme deve ora essere approvato dal Presidente turco, Ahmed Necdet Sezer. L'obbiettivo dell'abolizione della pena di morte - secondo quanto segnala l'agenzia "Ansa" - era stato impossibile per il Governo presieduto da Bulent Ecevit, bloccato dai veti del partito nazionalista "Mhp", e ha trovato, invece, una maggioranza europeista in Parlamento, dove è passato con 256 voti (Dsp, Anap, Dyp, Nuova Turchia dell'ex Ministro degli Esteri Ismail Cem, parte dei due partiti islamici) contro 162. Hanno votato contro 114 deputati nazionalisti, 27 deputati del partito islamico "Giustizia e progresso", sei del "Dyp" di Tansu Ciller, 2 deputati della formazione del vice Premier, Mesut Yilmaz ed altri tre. Quello che al Governo è stato impossibile fare in anni di accese diatribe, il Parlamento turco lo ha quindi fatto in una sola seduta in vista anche delle elezioni anticipate, fissate per il 3 di novembre, che gli analisi ritengono essere una prova decisiva per molti partiti, soprattutto in chiave europeistica.

 Il Consiglio d'Europa ha accolto con grande favore il voto a favore dell'abolizione della pena di morte. "La conferma di questo voto rappresenterà un'avanzata essenziale per i diritti umani in Turchia", ha dichiarato Walter Schwimmer, Segretario generale del Consiglio, che riunisce 44 Nazioni. Per Schwimmer, l'abolizione della pena di morte "invierà un chiaro segnale sull'impegno della Turchia ad avvicinarsi alla famiglia europea". 

 4 agosto 2002


Saturday, 3 August

Turkey passes key reform package

The Turkish parliament has formally approved a package of key democratic reforms, designed to improve the country's chances of European Union membership.

The death penalty wil be abolished, the ban on education and broadcasts in Kurdish lifted.

Final parliamentary confirmation came after a marathon all-night session, and now only requires the formality of presidential approval to become law.

 Nationalist deputies strongly opposed the moves, seeing them as a concession to Kurdish rebels and their 15-year campaign for autonomy in the south-east of the country.

 "We are happy that the death penalty is being lifted in Turkey," embattled Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit said after the vote. "It is important that the EU's door opens up for Turkey."

The death penalty will be replaced by life imprisonment without parole, although it will remain on the statute books in wartime.

 The change will save the life of jailed Kurdish leader Abdullah Ocalan.

Ocalan will escape the death penalty

The largest group in parliament, the Nationalist Action Party, made Ocalan's execution the centre of its 1999 election campaign.

 No executions have been carried out since 1984, although dozens of people are on death row.

 Members of the party told parliament that the families of those killed by the rebel Kurdish PKK were watching the debate. Turkey's reform package end the death penalty allow Kurdish broadcasts and education end penalties for criticism of state institutions ease restrictions on public demonstrations ease restrictions for foreign organisations working in the country toughen measures against illegal immigration greater freedom for non-Muslim minoriy religions 

 But such arguments failed to deter deputies from abolishing the death penalty by a large majority - a move which set the mood for further votes.

 Early on Saturday, parliament legalised Kurdish radio and television broadcasts - one of the most controversial elements of the reform package , which ends years of severe state restrictions.

 The country's estimated 12 million Kurds will also be allowed to have private Kurdish-language education.

 The BBC's Jonny Dymond in Istanbul says that to its supporters, the death penalty has been a sign of Turkey's resolve against terrorism, and to its opponents, a sign of state brutality and backwardness.

 Experts say that supporters of the reforms want to adopt the whole package before campaigning starts for the general election on 3 November.

 Turkey wants the EU to set a firm date by the end of the year when the country can start membership talks.

 But Brussels insists reforms should be passed and implemented before it could consider such a move.


Turkish daily news

Turkish legislature makes history with comprehensive reforms

Parliament scraps death penalty

As a proposal by the DSP for total annulment of the death penalty is rejected, although Parliament lifted it, capital punishment remains in books to be used in times of war or during the 'imminent threat of war'

The reform package, combined with the lifting of emergency rule in two southeastern provinces this month, will amount to a serious demonstration of Turkey's commitment to make the changes needed to qualify for EU membership

MHP accuses supporters for the abolition of the death penalty of scheming to save Ocalan from the gallows. 'Perhaps one day Ocalan will sit among us as a legislator, because this is what this legislation is leading to,' MHP deputy Gul says

The Turkish Parliament, in a landmark move, made history Friday, and scrapped the death penalty, ended a decades old discussion in the country between opponents and supporters of capital punishment and brought Turkey a step closer to the European Union.

 Despite bitter opposition from the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) and some reservations by the pro-Islamic Justice and Development Party, Parliament, handling a reform package, voted Friday 256 to 162 with one abstention to lift the death penalty.

 Although deputies voted overwhelmingly to lift the death penalty, a final vote on the whole package was not expected to come before the early hours of today and only after the whole package is approved the death penalty would be lifted from the Turkish judicial system.

 The measure would replace the death penalty with life imprisonment, although capital punishment would remain in the books to be used in times of war or during the "imminent threat of war."

 Advocates of the reforms believe the measures have to pass before December when the European Union leaders hold a summit meeting in Copenhagen to discuss the EU's further enlargement and could set a date for the start of Turkey's entry talks.

 On Friday, a pro-European lobby group mounted a digital clock opposite the entrance to Parliament, counting the days, hours and minutes left until the December summit in Copenhagen, where Turkey expects a date for the start of its accession talks would come out.

 Even if the package is passed in full, the EU is unlikely to fix a date for the start of membership talks when it meets in Copenhagen in December to decide on admitting up to 10 mainly East european countries to the bloc in 2004 or 2005.

 But the package, combined with the lifting of emergency rule in two southeastern provinces this month, would amount to a serious demonstration of Turkey's commitment to make the changes needed to qualify for EU membership, one Western diplomat said.

 The debate on the lifting of the death penalty was one of the most tense in the Turkish Parliament. With early elections looming in three months time, parties tried to portray a nationalist image and both the opponents and supporters of the lifting of the death penalty were busy providing "reasonable explanations" to their voters of their position.

 MHP accused all other conservative parties, particularly the DYP of "treason" and because of strong objections, Justice Minister Hikmet Sami Turk, an established supporter for the abolition of capital punishment, could not succeed to talk on behalf of the three-way coalition government that brings together Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit's Democratic Left Party (DSP), the MHP and the liberal-conservative Motherland Party (ANAP).

 It is a custom in Turkish Parliament for a cabinet member to take the rostrum at the end of debates on drafts and respond to criticisms on behalf of the government. But, when Turk took the rostrum Friday to answer criticisms on behalf of the coalition, MHP deputies objected saying there was no consensus in the government on the issue and the minister had no right to speak on behalf of the coalition. Thus, Turk could not speak.

 During the debate on the article, the first of a 14-article package, the MHP staged an alone campaign against all other parties in Parliament and charged that the move was a covert amnesty for Abdullah Ocalan, the death-row inmate chieftain of the separatist Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) that has renamed itself to KADEK.

 Nationalist legislators accused advocates of the reforms of scheming to save Ocalan from the gallows. Ocalan was captured and sentenced to death for treason in 1999 amid massive popular calls for him to hang. He is currently the only inmate of a special island prison, awaiting an appeal to the European Court of Human Rights.

 "The families of the martyrs are watching these proceedings very closely," nationalist legislator Mehmet Gul said. "They await the decision you will take here with tears in their eyes."

 "Perhaps one day Abdullah Ocalan will sit among us as a legislator, because this is what this legislation is leading to," Gul said. "Either reject this proposal or come out openly and say you intend to forgive Ocalan."

 MHP insisted that Turkey ought to consider lifting the death penalty only after Ocalan, sentenced to death for the killing of some 30,000 Turkish nationals in a 15-year campaign of terrorism by his gang, was hanged. MHP draws strong support from families of soldiers who fought against the separatist gang.

 Attempts by the MHP to move the article lifting the death penalty from the package, and efforts by the pro-Islamic AKP to make an addition to the sentence that prisoners whose death sentences would be converted to heavy life term sentences with the abolition of the death sentence would not benefit from parole were all rejected by the deputies.

 The discussions come after Parliament voted overwhelmingly to hold early elections on Nov. 3, cutting short the term of ailing Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit's troubled coalition government.

 The speed with which the package has progressed so far has surprised many who thought the often controversial reforms might be bogged down in the Parliament. 


Challenge to Turkey reform package

Rebel leader Abdullah Ocalan on death row in Turkey   

August 4, 2002

 ANKARA, Turkey -- Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Devlet Bahceli says he will challenge the European Union-inspired abolition of the death penalty at the country's highest court.

 His right wing Nationalist Action Party (MHP) had opposed the whole package of reforms including easing curbs on Kurdish language education and broadcasting which were passed by parliament on Saturday. (Full story)

 Right-wingers fear those measures could reignite separatism in Turkey's mainly Kurdish southeast where the rebel Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) launched a violent campaign for independence in 1984, in which some 30,000 people have died.

 "I have asked for preparations to be made to appeal to the Constitutional Court over the laws, particularly lifting the death penalty and concerning mother-tongue education and television broadcasting," Bahceli said in comments shown by NTV television on Sunday.

 Recourse to the Constitutional Court is a common tactic for parties opposing laws passed by Turkey's parliament and court cases can take some time to be resolved, though the laws are normally enacted in the meantime.

The opposition AK Party voted with the MHP against the clause lifting the death penalty in parliament, though it backed the main package, on the grounds that it said a constitutional change was needed to abolish capital punishment.

 The reforms include ending punishments for criticism of the armed forces and other pillars of the Turkish establishment, and tightening laws against people smuggling. (Reform detail)

 Markets are hoping progress towards the EU will help attract foreign investment to haul Turkey's economy out of recession and bolster a $16 billion IMF economic rescue programme.

 The EU welcomed passage of the reforms but said the package would need to be closely analysed to assess its impact and much would depend on its practical implementation.

 The package was rushed through parliament by pro-EU forces who wanted to complete the reforms before campaigning starts for a general election on November 3. The package still needs the president's ratification.

 The death penalty has not been used in Turkey since 1984 but dozens are on death row, most notably Kurdish rebel leader Abdullah Ocalan, leader of the PKK (Kurdish Workers' Party) which fought a long drawn-out guerrilla conflict for greater rights.


ANKARA, Turkey -- Turkey has abolished the death penalty in peacetime as part of a raft of reforms aimed at preparing the country for European Union membership.

 Parliament voted through a package of reforms on Saturday that also included easing restrictions on the Kurdish rights and language and tightening laws against people smuggling. (Reform detail)

 The package was rushed through parliament by pro-EU forces who wanted the legislation in place before elections, which were brought forward to November after the ruling coalition suffered a number of high-profile resignations.

 Deputy Premier Mesut Yilmaz, whose party drafted the reform package: "Turkey has taken a giant step on the road to the EU."

 The European Union's executive Commission said it welcomed the reforms "as an important signal of the determination of the majority of Turkey's political leaders towards further alignment to the values and standards of the European Union."

It added, however, that the reform package needed to be "carefully analysed in order to fully assess its impact."

 "Moreover, much will depend on its practical implementation that will be closely monitored in the months to come," it said in a statement, adding that it would present an assessment in the autumn.

 Only the Nationalist Action Party (MHP) voted against the reforms after a 22-hour debate leaving the legislation just one step away from becoming law -- presidential ratification which is expected to be a formality.

 The MHP feared the Kurdish rights clauses would mean giving in to the demands of Kurdish guerillas.

 Nationalist lawmaker Bozkurt Yasar Ozturk: "We won't let those terrorists left in the mountains come down to the city and participate in (language) courses. Rather than putting out a fire, we're making it bigger."

 The 14-point package legalises long-banned TV and radio broadcasts in the Kurdish language and allows Kurdish and other regional dialects to be taught in special courses.

 It allows non-Muslim minority communities such as Greeks, Armenians and Jews greater rights over religious property such as churches and tightens regulations governing the police, who are frequently accused of human rights abuse.

 The death penalty has not been used in Turkey since 1984 but dozens are on death row, most notably Kurdish rebel leader Abdullah Ocalan, leader of the PKK (Kurdish Workers' Party) which fought a long drawn-out guerrilla conflict for greater rights.


Turkish Parliament, Looking to Europe, Passes Reforms

ANKARA, Turkey, Aug. 3 (AP) — After a raucous all-night debate, Turkey's Parliament approved a package of rights reforms aimed at increasing its chances of joining the European Union by abolishing the death penalty and granting greater rights to the nation's Kurds.Pro-Europe deputies pushed through the legislation over fierce opposition by nationalists, who said the changes would divide the country and amounted to giving in to Kurdish rebels who fought a 15-year war in southeastern Turkey. The action by the unicameral National Assembly now requires only the formality of presidential approval to become law. Advertisement   

But debate over the matter has hardly ended. The new laws are expected to be a major issue in parliamentary elections called for November. And nationalists said they may seek to overturn the laws in court.Supporters of the changes praised the passage of the new laws as a step toward joining the European Union. The union made abolishing the death penalty a condition for Turkey to join after it became a candidate for membership in 1999. But full membership for Turkey may be many years away, because the union wants to see how reforms are carried out. 

The legislation, passed by a show of hands, will replace the death penalty with life imprisonment without the possibility of parole. Capital punishment remains on the books, however, during times of war. The changes also legalize long-banned television and radio broadcasts in the Kurdish language and allow Kurdish and other regional dialects to be taught in schools.Turkey is under pressure from Europe to improve its human rights record. The country has been dogged by accusations of torture in police stations and prisons. Turkey does not recognize the Kurds as a minority, and the country's 12 million Kurds, who make up about 20 percent of the population, have long been denied cultural rights."Turkey has taken a giant step on the road to the E.U.," said Deputy Prime Minister Mesut Yilmaz, whose Democratic Left Party drafted the legislation. 

A conference of European Union leaders that is scheduled for December is expected to make a decision on expansion, and a date could be set for talks on Turkey's entry.

 A nationwide poll by a private research group in May showed that a majority of Turks favor membership in the European Union, as well as abolition of the death penalty. But the Nationalist Action Party has resisted the changes, saying it would fuel the 15-year war by Kurdish rebels seeking autonomy.For months, the debate has divided and paralyzed the coalition led by Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit, touching off a government crisis that led to the calling of parliamentary elections for November, 18 months ahead of schedule.The parliamentary debate, which began Friday and stretched into this morning, turned loud and angry."We won't let those terrorists left in the mountains come down to the city and participate" in language courses," said Bozkurt Yasar Ozturk, a Nationalist Party deputy. "Rather than putting out a fire, we're making it bigger."Nationalists also insisted that the death sentence be carried out against Abdullah Ocalan, a jailed Kurdish rebel leader who has been sentenced to hang, and they accused the reform legislation's supporters of scheming to save Mr. Ocalan.Turkey has not executed anyone since 1984, although courts regularly impose death sentences. Dozens of prisoners are now on death row.The package also lifts certain restrictions on people's right to associate and form civic organizations, and it imposes stricter penalties for human trafficking. It allows non-Muslim minority communities such as Greeks, Armenians and Jews greater rights over religious property like churches and synagogues.


Boston Globe

Turkey abolishes its death penalty

By Suzan Fraser, Associated Press, 8/4/2002

ANKARA, Turkey - Government officials who support Turkey's bid to join the European Union rejoiced yesterday after Parliament abolished the death penalty and granted more rights to minority Kurds.  The EU made abolishing the death penalty a condition for Turkey to join the group, while international groups have long lobbied for an end to restrictions on Kurdish education and language-use.In a rowdy, all-night session, pro-EU legislators pushed through the legislation despite fierce opposition by nationalists - the largest group in Parliament but without a majority - who are suspicious of the EU and say the reforms reward Kurdish rebels who waged a 15-year battle for autonomy in southeastern Turkey.''Turkey has taken a giant step on the road to the EU,'' said Deputy Premier Mesut Yilmaz, whose party drafted the reform package.In Brussels, an EU statement welcomed the moves as ''significant steps toward better protection of human rights and the rights of minorities in Turkey,'' but said it would carefully monitor their implementation.The United States strongly supports the predominantly Muslim but secular nation's EU membership. Washington has touted NATO member Turkey as a possible model for other Muslim states.But debate over the reforms is not over.

The nationalists say they may try to overturn them in Turkey's highest court, and the new laws will likely be a major issue in November elections.The legislation still needs to be approved by the president and published in the official gazette - both of which are expected. But Turkey has approved but failed to implement laws in the past, and it was not clear if Kurds, for example, could immediately open up Kurdish-language schools.Yesterday's measures will replace the death penalty with life imprisonment without the possibility of parole. Capital punishment remains on the books, however, during times of war.Turkey has not executed anyone since 1984, although courts regularly impose death sentences. Dozens of people are on death row.The reforms will legalize long-banned TV and radio broadcasts in the Kurdish language and allow Kurdish and other regional dialects to be taught in special courses.This story ran on page A9 of the Boston Globe on 8/4/2002


Teheran Times

Turkey Passes Rights Reforms in Step Towards EU

ANKARA -- Turkey's Parliament approved a major reform package on Saturday which includes abolishing the death penalty in peacetime and other measures aimed at preparing the country for European Union membership, Reuters said."Europe, We're Coming!" was *** Milliyet *** newspaper's headline.The rights reforms include ending punishments for criticism of the armed forces and other pillars of the Turkish establishment, outlawing organ and people smuggling and easing restrictions on the Kurdish language.Markets are hoping progress towards the EU will help attract foreign investment to haul Turkey's economy out of recession and bolster a $16 billion IMF economic rescue program.The package ends years of state restrictions in key areas.The vote to abolish the death penalty in peacetime was a watershed for a country that only three years ago was baying for the blood of PKK (Kurdistan Workers Party) guerrilla leader Abdullah Ocalan, blaming him for more than 30,000 deaths in conflict with security forces."Thank You" was the front page banner headline in *** Sabah *** daily newspaper. "The death penalty, the main obstacle for EU membership, is abolished with a historic vote," it said.*** Sabah***, like most papers, went to press before the final vote on the whole package which did not come until after sunrise on Saturday. Parliamentarians had already voted through the reforms individually.The package was rushed through Parliament by pro-EU forces who wanted to complete the reforms before campaigning starts for a general election on November 3. The package now only needs the president's ratification, expected to be a formality.Ankara wants the European Union to set a date by the end of the year for Turkey to start membership talks. The EU wants to see reforms implemented as well as being passed before it sets a date and even some Turkish commentators admit that there is still work to be done to meet the EU's strict criteria."There are some very sensitive issues in this package," one Western diplomat said as Parliament was debating the reforms. "It's a significant step in the right direction."Stocks and the lira rose on Friday amid hopes the reforms would pass.Many Turks accept that the road to Europe is still a long one for a country struggling to overcome a financial crisis last year that halved the value of the lira, slashed more than a million jobs, and sparked the worst recession since 1945."It's obvious they will not accept us with such a bad economy," said Derya Sahin, a 19-year-old student in Ankara. But ***Milliyet*** columnist Guneri Civaoglu said the EU must take Turkey's candidacy seriously. "Acceptance of these new reforms will be a test of the sincerity of the EU. It's their turn."The Nationalist Action Party (MHP) was the main opponent of some of the key reforms, fearing for example that allowing freedoms for the Kurdish language might encourage armed separatism in Turkey's mainly-Kurdish southeast.The MHP, with 126 seats in the 550 seat Parliament, was the only party to vote against the entire package in the final vote.The most heated debate surrounded the first clause of the package, removing the death penalty from Turkey's civil code except in times of war or near war.Nationalists argued that this could save Ocalan, the PKK leader who was captured in 1999 after an international man-hunt.Another major change allows television and radio broadcasts in Kurdish on the condition they follow constitutional principles and do not incite violence.Expatriate Turkish Kurds in Europe have been broadcasting via satellite to Turkey for years, much to the anger of the Turkish state, which accused the channels of acting as a mouthpiece for separatist rebels of the PKK.In one step that will be welcomed by the EU, the reforms also introduced tough penalties for people and organ smugglers.The wealthy bloc is increasingly concerned by illegal immigration, much of which flows through the long borders and coastline of southeastern neighbor Turkey. 


Turkey Passes Rights Reforms In Bid for EU Death Penalty Ended; Kurds Get Freedoms    

 Turkish Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit, whose coalition government is in turmoil, casts a vote in Ankara.    

  August 4, 2002; 

 ISTANBUL, Aug. 3 -- Turkey's parliament passed new legislation this morning to abolish the death penalty and establish language rights for the Kurdish minority, keeping alive its bid to become the first Muslim member of the European Union.The measures, which also relax prohibitions on public meetings and criticism of the powerful military and other state institutions, signal a watershed change in the way the country views itself, analysts and lawmakers said. "Here, everything is based on the state, the existence of the state," said Bulent Akarcali, whose Motherland Party championed the reform package, which was approved by a comfortable margin after a marathon session.

 "This concept, this mentality, is changing."The founder of modern Turkey, Kemal Ataturk, put the assertion of national identity before all else, and the country for eight decades has hewed to a course that subjugated individual and minority rights. In recent years the approach hit Turkey's 12 million ethnic Kurds hardest; the Kurds' desire to keep alive their own language has been equated with militant efforts to create a separate state. Until the prospect of joining the EU arose, with its promise of economic advantage in exchange for the adoption of international standards for human rights, Kurdish advocates were being jailed for merely suggesting some of the very measures Turkish lawmakers voted into law.Mehmet Ali Birand, a leading columnist, called the vote "very, very significant. It means the legacy of Ataturk policies is put aside. You accept the Kurdish reality. For the first time."Kurdish advocates voiced approval of, but not satisfaction with, the measures, which allow the Kurdish language to be tutored and broadcast but do not authorize public schools to teach it."What I think is most significant is that a subject which has been a taboo for years is open to discussion," said Hasan Kaya, chairman of the Istanbul Kurdish Institute. "A forbidden language can hardly improve."The Kurdish question also loomed over the vote that repealed the death penalty except in times of war.

 Turkey has had a moratorium on capital punishment and has not executed a prisoner in more than 10 years. Polls show that a majority of Turks accept a formal ban.Debate was fractious nonetheless because the repeal meant that a captured Kurdish separatist leader, Abdullah Ocalan, who authorities say is responsible for 30,000 deaths during years of fighting in the country's now largely quiescent southeast, will not be executed. The effective reprieve for Ocalan, head of the outlawed Kurdish Workers' Party, or PKK, prompted cries of treason from members of the Nationalist Action Party.But the country's major news outlets celebrated passage of the reform package.

 "Europe, we're coming!" read the headline in the nationwide daily Milliyet. EU membership, if it comes at all, however, remains at least six years away, and more probably eight, experts say. Today's vote was prompted by a December deadline the EU had set for Turkey to prove it is serious about making changes, particularly cleaning up its checkered human rights record and guaranteeing cultural freedom, especially for the Kurds.Although almost entirely part of Asia geographically, Turkey, a member of NATO, has been oriented toward the West since its centuries as the heart of the Ottoman Empire, which extended into present-day Austria.Turkey's bid for EU membership is strongly supported by the United States, which views Turkey as a useful secular, Western-leaning nation with a Muslim majority and as an example to other Islamic countries."Just think, through Turkey the EU will be represented at the Organization of Islamic Countries," said Haluk Tukel, secretary general of the Turkish Industrialists' and Businessmen's Association. "And the Muslim countries will have a conduit to the EU through Turkey."For ordinary Turks, however, the attraction of EU membership is almost wholly financial. If Turkey joins the EU, it will be the first time Turkey's oft-cited "strategic importance" as a West-leaning Muslim nation pays off, Tukel said.Birand, the columnist, said: "When you look at the public, they don't care about the death penalty or Kurdish issues. All they care is that they will be able to join the EU -- getting rich, that's all."The economic dangers of the country's statist traditions became apparent two years ago in a monetary meltdown that cost the nation of 66 million people more than a million jobs and caused the worst recession since World War II. Turkey's slow recovery, with the help of a $16 billion loan from the International Monetary Fund -- the biggest outlay anywhere in the world -- has been shaken by months of political crisis.The ruling coalition headed by ailing Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit, 77, has teetered on the edge of collapse much of the summer. Today's vote was rushed in large part so that parliamentarians could concentrate on campaigning for early elections they formally set for Nov. 3. Researcher Yesim Forsyth contributed to this report.