The European Union's long-awaited decision in December to begin formal talks to admit Turkey would have been impossible without legislative reforms made in recent years, including several aimed at expanding freedom of expression.
A new Penal Code set to take effect in 2005 codifies a number of recent press reforms. Notably, it limits the definition of "inciting hatred" to cases in which the exercise of free expression poses a "clear and present danger." Prison penalties for "insulting" state institutions were reduced, and the law now requires proof of intent for conviction. A new press law adopted in June abolishes authorities' power to suspend publications, lifts prison penalties for certain press offenses, and strengthens protection for confidential sources.