dpa/GNA – A human rights plan announced by Turkey’s president on Tuesday aims to appease Western allies critical of the country’s record of repression, with the future aim to write a new constitution.
“The ultimate goal of our action plan is [to make] a new and civilian constitution,” President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Tuesday, calling it a “historical responsibility.”
The nine-point plan, which is to be implemented over the next two years, pledges to strengthen the rule of law, protect the rights of women and minorities, freedom of expression and the right to a fair trial, among other things. Many of these goals are already enshrined in the current constitution.
Turkey is routinely criticized by the European Union and the United States for the prosecution of those seen as government opponents.
It has for instance flouted binding rulings by the European Court of Human Rights to free philanthropist Osman Kavala and pro-Kurdish politician Selahattin Demirtas, in custody on flimsy charges.
The EU and US have also slammed the crackdown in January on peaceful demonstrators who oppose Erdogan’s controversial appointment of a university rector.
Erdogan pledged to “accelerate work” on improving and monitoring human rights, as part of measures to meet EU visa liberalization criteria.
He has maintained that Turkey is committed to become a full EU member even as accession talks, which started in 2005, are currently frozen.
The bloc, Turkey’s largest trading partner, holds its next summit at the end of March, where relations with Ankara will also be on the agenda.