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03 04 2008 - 301 to be revised very soon, PM Erdošan says
301 to be revised very soon, PM Erdoðan says

PM Recep Tayyip Erdoðan
Turkey will move to change an anti-free speech penal code article as soon as Parliament finishes its work on a social security reform bill that is currently under discussion, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoðan said
Turkey will take more steps toward completing its European Union accession process, Prime Minister Erdoðan, who is on a visit to Sweden, said in a speech at the Swedish Institute of International Affairs.

He also promised more freedoms and a change to the infamous Turkish Penal Code Article 301, under which many of the country's prominent writers and
journalists have been taken to court for "denigrating Turkishness," a crime under the problematic article.

"Article 301 will drop off the agenda of Turkey and of the European Union," pledged Erdoðan. He also stated that soon state television stations will offer programs broadcast in Kurdish, Arabic and Persian, an important
improvement in minority rights demanded by the EU.

Erdoðan in his address told the audience that his ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) has added a depth to politics in Turkey and has normalized the country's democracy. He also commented on a recent suit seeking to shut down the AK Party over alleged anti-secularist activities.

European Union officials have repeatedly warned that a closure of the AK
Party would have serious implications on the country's bid to join the 27-nation club. The Constitutional Court agreed on Monday to hear a closure case against the AK Party on charges of it having become "a focal point for anti-secular activities." In an immediate reaction to the court's decision, EU Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn repeated a strong warning that it exposed a "systemic error" in Turkey's Constitution, announcing that he would brief the EU Commission on the case on Wednesday.

Regarding the indictment filed with the Constitutional Court the prime minister merely stated: "The legal process has started. From this point on the Constitutional Court will carry out its duty."

Also yesterday, Sweden's King Carl XVI Gustaf received Erdoðan. The Turkish prime minister, who arrived late Tuesday, later visited the nearby parliament building for a meeting with the members of the parliament committee on European Union affairs and the committee on foreign affairs as well as Parliament Speaker Per Westerberg.

As Erdoðan made his first official contact in Stockholm with King Carl XVI Gustaf at the royal palace, a small group held a demonstration outside of the building.

A group of Armenians and Assyrians carried banners reading "We haven't forgotten the incidents of 1915," "Turkey should recognize the Assyrian genocide of 1915" and "Don't forget the massacres." The Swedish police
surrounded the group with a security line.

Both Armenians and Assyrians claim that hundreds of thousands of their kin were slaughtered in orchestrated killings during the last years of the Ottoman Empire. Turkey categorically rejects the claims, saying that 300,000 Armenians along with at least as many Turks died in civil strife that emerged when the Armenians took up arms for independence in eastern


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