Euro Parl. Reaffirms Pre-Eminence of Copenhagen Political Criteria

for Justice and Democracy
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April 3rd, 2004
Contact: Talline Tachdjian
Tel.: +32 (0)2 732 70 27


– Reiterates the 1987 resolution on the Armenian genocide
– Rejects proposals to waive Copenhagen criteria
– Refuses `Privileged partnership’ as alternative to membership
– Questions `absorption capability’ of the European Union, for the first

Brussels, Belgium – On Thursday April 1st 2004, the European Parliament
(EP) examined and adopted the draft resolution on `Turkey’s progress
towards accession’, prepared by Mr Oostlander (PPE
(Christian-Democrat)/Netherlands), announced the European Armenian
Federation for Justice and Democracy (FEAJD).

The European Commissioner responsible for Enlargement, Mr Verheugen, made a
point of attending the debates and explaining the status of the outstanding
negotiations on Cyprus. Nevertheless he affirmed that simply modifying
existing laws without taking action to implement those statutes is not
enough for Turkey. `We also want a change of practice […] We constantly
receive information that demonstrates that the reforms process is only
accepted with hesitation by the Turkish administration’, he declared.

The Armenian Genocide issue was raised specifically by Mrs. Ainardi (GUE,
Group of the European United Left- France), Mrs. Roure (PSE, Party of
European Socialists-France), and Mrs. Schleicher (PPE, Germany).

Mrs Roure mentioned notably that it is difficult to understand `how a
country can join the Union while denying its history and its mistakes. We
therefore expect Turkey to carry out its responsibility toward history and
we will remind Turkey of that at every opportunity.’

Mrs. Schleicher, Chairwoman of the Delegation to the EU-South Caucasus
Parliamentary Cooperation Committees also indicated that by the economic
boycott and the closing of the border with Armenia, Turkey was guilty of
serious violations of the Balladur principles [1]’. She added that `Turkey
had worked to exclude Armenia Baku-Ceyhan pipeline route’ and that `it
contributed thus to increase regional instability’. She concluded that
Armenia `could not have confidence in Turkey under these conditions’.

Mr. Katiforis (PSE, Greece) then noted the Ministry of Education’s
revisionist directive requiring schoolchildren to compose essays `filled
with fanaticism directed towards certain minorities.’

A total of 41 amendments to the Turkey accession legislation were presented
and voted on. Amendments emanating from the Green and Liberal parties
proposing to begin negotiations prior to meeting the requirements of the
`Copenhagen Criteria’ were rejected. Others suggesting that the EU extend a
`privileged partnership’ status to Turkey, during such time that it falls
short of the Copenhagen criteria were also rejected. Finally, the
Parliament voted in support of its initial position, which calls for strict
compliance to the `Copenhagen criteria.’

Concerning the Armenian Genocide and the blockade of Armenia, the EP
maintained the paragraphs adopted by its Committee on Foreign Affairs on
March 17. They stipulate in particular that:

– The EP `requests Turkey to reopen the borders with Armenia and to promote
good neighborly relations with Armenia, to work together to promote
equitable solutions to regional conflicts and not to take any action that
would stand in the way of a historic reconciliation’.

– The EP `would like a dialogue to be established between Turkish and
Armenian academics, social and non-governmental organizations in order to
overcome the tragic experiences of the past as has been expressed in its
earlier resolutions (of 18 June 1987, 15 November 2000, 28 February 2002
and 26 February 2004).’

The PPE (Christians Democrats) and the PSE (Party of European Socialists)
were successful in blocking an amendment introduced by Mrs. Roure and 31
other deputies that aimed to reinforce the idea of Turkey’s responsibility
to begin a dialogue with Armenian people.

Euro-deputies also rejected Mr Coûteaux’s (EDD, France) amendment,
proposing to submit the question of Turkey’s membership to the European
nations by way of referendum. They did, however, make a point of
indicating that the European Commission had to fully take into
consideration `the capacity of the Union to absorb new members’ as
stipulated within the `Copenhagen Criteria.’

In return, the PSE amendment calling on Turkey to sign and to ratify the
statutes of the International Criminal Court was adopted.

The European Parliament adopted the legislation on Turkey’s progress toward
accession by a final vote of 211 in favor, 84 against and 46 abstentions.

`The direct reference to the resolution of 1987, as well as resolutions
adopted in 2000, 2002 and 2004 is a clear victory. For many years, Turkey
has led a large-scale shameful campaign aimed at burying the Armenian
Genocide recognition issue by the EP. It is unfortunate, however, that the
use of the words `blockade’ and `genocide’ remain a taboo,’ explained Hilda
Tchoboian, chairperson of the European Armenian Federation. `It is
particularly troubling to hear EP deputies vote against a measure which
would allow their constituents to speak out on the Turkey accession
issue. We should not be adopting Turkey’s traditions of non-transparency
in government.’

`On the other hand, the European Armenian Federation is pleased to see that
the concept of the Union’s `absorption capacity’ of the Union is
appropriately questioned for the first time. The Federation shares the
Parliamentarians’ concern that Turkey’s membership would cause
uncertainties in the Union’s political, economic, social and cultural
circles, calling the very principle of its integration into question. It
stresses that if Europeans want to believe in Europe again, the European
representatives should work to send a clear signal to European leaders,
that the Union’s membership demands should be scrupulously examined not
according to the opportunities and pressures of the moment, but with
respect to fundamental European values,’ explained Tchoboian.