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Wednesday, August 20, 2008

New Reforms on the Way?

The Justice and Development Party, or AKP, has drafted a new national program regarding European Union accession, in a sign that the government plans to reinvigorate EU-backed reforms. The plan includes 120 to 130 legal amendments and 342 secondary regulations. Following the first wave of speedy reforms between 2002 and 2004, the government's performance paradoxically slowed, despite the formal launch of accession negotiations with the EU in October 2005.

Content of the 2008 national program

* The government pledges to establish a new immigration and asylum center under the Interior Ministry to align with the EU's Amsterdam Treaty.
• Turkey's visa regime and types -- single/multiple entry -- will be aligned with the EU.
• Under the bill on DNA data and the Turkish National DNA Data Bank, a balance will be created between the storage of personal data on blood and blood samples and the protection of privacy.
• A fingerprint data base will be created for alignment with the EU's Dublin Convention.

• A professional border security organization will be set up under the Interior Ministry.
• To enhance international and regional cooperation in the fight against terrorism, a Europe-Middle East explosives and bomb inspection and training center will be set up.
• After the creation of a law on data protection, further steps will be taken in the fight against international crime, in cooperation with Europol at the operational level.
• A strategy will be set for customs cooperation and border security.
• The new integrated border management action plan will be detailed, and technical needs of border units will be determined.
• An action plan will be drafted to fight drug trafficking in rural areas. (source)

I would not call this reform at all. None of these issues are serious problems for Turkey. There is no freedom of speech in Turkey, social security system has huge deficits, AKP just survived another round of judicial activism which must be curtailed significantly. Why would you ever want to give a higher priority to changing visa regime and types over freedom of speech?