EU/TURKEY : CORRUPTION SCANDAL ROCKS TURKEY AS NEW EU MINISTER TAKES OVER.

 
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Selling a 'product' - in this case Turkey's achievements in its quest for EU membership - is one of the main tasks of Turkey's new Minister for EU Affairs and Chief Negotiator Mevlut Cavusoglu, who took over from Egemen Bagis. "Significant progress has been made in 2013 in the political criteria and the chapters on judiciary and fundamental rights and justice freedom and security," according to Cavusoglu's first progress report on Turkey's progress toward EU membership, presented on 31 December 2013.

While there is certainly reason for Ankara to boast - among others - the introduction last year of the possibility to file individual applications to the country's Constitutional Court, the country's new chief EU negotiator obviously missed out in his account on major developments in the judiciary that occurred in the last two weeks of December. In fact, these matters are still work in progress.

Investigations into alleged cases of corruption, which ultimately target the government of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and which were launched over a year ago, became known to the public on 17 December asa Turkish police detained the sons of three ministers and some 50 other suspects. Erdogan's counter-attack against the prosecutors and the police was criticised by Enlargement Commissioner Stefan Fule and MEPs, who urged the prime minister to respect the impartiality of the judiciary. Early on in the crisis, following the resignation of the ministers of interior, economy and urban development, Hannes Swoboda (Austria), president of the S&D group in the European Parliament, suggested in a tweet that Erdogan should also step down, giving way to "more democracy" in Turkey.

Unfazed, the Turkish prime minister has made a series of attempts to thwart the investigations that had reached his younger son Bilal, too. He relocated hundreds of senior police officers and several prosecutors. He reshuffled the government, also bringing a new EU minister on board. Furthermore, Erdogan closed ranks with the military, who were promised a...

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