Turkey's new judicial reform package shows the country's commitment to full EU membership despite "unkept promises", President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Thursday.
"With this reform document, even though the promises given to us were not kept, we express our commitment to the full EU membership process," Erdogan told a program at Bestepe Congress Center where he unveiled the country’s Judicial Reform Strategy Document.
"We believe that the completion of the EU negotiation process, which has been ongoing since 2005 despite everything, bears importance for Europe at least as much as it does for us," Erdogan added.
Turkey applied for EU membership in 1987 and accession talks began in 2005.
However, negotiations stalled in 2007 due to objections by the Greek Cypriot administration on the divided island of Cyprus as well as opposition from Germany and France.
Erdogan said the reforms would allow pregnant women, children, and elderly people charged with petty crimes to serve their sentences at home via electronic tagging.
He noted that this would be socially beneficial and save costs at penal institutions.
Erdogan also said the reform document would increase citizens’ confidence in judiciary and it will provide a foreseeable investment environment.
He also added that the document would strengthen the freedom of speech and improve it further.
Erdogan noted that under the new measures, lawyers satisfying certain criteria would be issued new passports that would ease their international activities.
He underlined that the reforms were people- and service-focused and would more effectively protect rights and freedoms, improve the independence and impartiality of the judiciary, strengthen legal security and facilitate access to justice for all.
Erdogan said the full text of the document was available on the Internet and as a hard-cover publication.