Turkish business urges gov’t to show ‘common sense’ and not provide EU with arguments against membership

ISTANBUL (AFP) – The Turkish government has «disappointed» the country’s businessmen who expect it to show «common sense» in defusing the crisis between Ankara and the EU over the ruling party’s unexpected blocking of a crucial penal code reform, a top business leader said Saturday. «We thought we had solved our basic problems with the EU and gone on to matters pertaining to the country’s future when we were disappointed by the government’s contradictory statements over the penal code,» said Omer Sabanci, president of the influential Turkish Industrialists’ and Businessmen’s Association (TUSIAD). «These contradictory statements have muddled the minds of public opinion in both Turkey and the EU,» he said, «coming at a time when we are so close to the EU’s October 6 report (on whether to give Turkey a date for membership talks), we have largely achieved the Copenhagen criteria, the assembly has met in an extraordinary session and agreement has been reached with the opposition.» Parliament on Saturday recessed until October 1, leaving the penal code in limbo and unlikely to be enacted before the October 6 report. «The current situation,» Sabanci said, «means that Turkey is distributing trump cards to anti-Turkish lobbies.» Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan is under fire for sparking the 11th hour crisis between Ankara and Brussels with his insistence on including a clause making adultery a crime into an otherwise widely admired reform of Turkey’s 78-year-old criminal code. Sabanci joined the fray, saying, «The government’s insistence on this matter creates problems on the road to the EU and has negative effects on economic stability at a time when we need it most.» «TUSIAD expects common sense to dominate,» he added. «The future of our children and our grandchildren demands this.»

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