The head of the European Parliament has said Turkey's new constitution should be compatible with the European Union's charter on fundamental rights.
"It is really important and not negotiable that the new constitution must be compatible with the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the EU," said President of the European Parliament, Martin Schulz, at a press conference in Ankara on Monday.
Describing himself as a strong defender of Turkey's EU membership, Schulz said there were still issues that should be resolved between the union and Turkey.
The EP president said the state of Turkey's negotiation process, visa debate, the Greek Cypriot term presidency ahead and the ongoing constitutional reform process in Turkey were the core issues discussed during his talks with Turkish officials today.
Upon a question with regard to imprisoned Turkish MPs, Schulz said he had raised the issue in his talks and urged his interlocutors to look carefully to the conditions under which those parliamentarians were in prison and trials were held. Commenting on Turkey's decision to freeze dialogue with the upcoming Greek Cypriot presidency of the union, the EP head said all parties should take into consideration the reality that the Greek Cypriot administration was a member of the EU. Schulz said he would criticise when a candidate state refused to negotiate during the presidency of a member state. Recalling the Positive Agenda launched between Turkey and EU in recent weeks, Schulz said, "It is up to Turkey to decide if they will suspend themselves from realizing this Positive Agenda in the next 6 months. I have a lot difficulties to believe that it will happen."
In response to a question on whether he had concerns about the freedom of press in Europe, Schulz said he had always criticized restrictions against the media. "Freedom of media is a world-wide problem, not only in one country," he said. Pointing to the concerns expressed by Turkish intellectuals regarding the freedom of press in Turkey, Schulz said, "If we raise media concerns in Turkey, it is not to blame Turkey, it is because we raise it whenever, whereever such problems appear."
Sharing also his opinion on the incidents in Uludere, Schulz said military attacks with civilian victims were the worst case. "A word of recognition to the victims and families of the victims of their suffering is for sure appropriate to water down tension," he said.
Commenting on EP's stance against the ongoing violence in Syria, Schulz said the massacre in this country should be condemned.
"I am upset and angry as everybody. On the other hand, I know that we must try to solve the problem with the means we have. The EP and EU support all the measures taken by the UN Security Council and the Secretary-General," he said.
Condemning the Assad regime's attacks against its own population, Schulz said, "The way Kofi Annan is going on behalf of the UN is the only possible way for the time being".