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Thursday, November 6, 2008

EU finds Turkey's military still has too much autonomy

LONDON — The European Commission said government of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Erdogan failed to adequately limit the military's authority over the government.

The EC said in its annual report that the military routinely conducts counter-insurgency operations without government approval and retains control over defense spending.

"Overall, no progress has been made in ensuring full civilian supervisory functions over the military and parliamentary oversight of defense expenditure," the report said.

The report was meant to track Turkey's progress toward membership in the European Union, an effort launched in 2005. Brussels has stipulated a series of requirements for membership, including the removal of the military from Turkish civilian affairs.

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"The armed forces have continued to exercise significant political influence via formal and informal mechanisms," the report said. "Senior members of the armed forces have expressed their opinion on domestic and foreign policy issues going beyond their remit, including on Cyprus, the southeast, secularism, political parties and other non-military developments."

The EC said the Erdogan government has not revised the role of the military. The report said the government failed to pass legislation that would enhance civilian control over either the military or the paramilitary Gendarmarie. In December 2007, the General Staff requested and received parliamentary approval for air and ground strikes against the Kurdish Workers Party in Iraq.

A key issue, the report said, was the government's lack of oversight in Turkey's war against the PKK. The EC said the military and Gendarmerie continued to conduct counter-insurgency missions without government permission.

"Owing to Turkey's non compliance with its obligations related to the additional protocol to the Ankara Agreement, in December 2006 the EU decided to freeze eight chapters of the negotiations, but to continue with the other chapters," the report said.

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