Euro-Armenian News update




Arie OOSTLANDER (EPP-ED, NL). Report on the 2003 regular report of the
Commission on Turkey’s progress towards accession (COM(2003) 676 –
SEC(2003) 1212 – C5-0535/2003 – 2003/2204(INI)) Doc.: A5-0204/2004 Procedure
: Own-initiative report Vote : 01.04.2004

Turkey has made many important reforms since last year in order to meet the
Copenhagen political criteria for EU membership but still needs to
go considerably further and rigorously implement the reforms in many areas,
the European Parliament said in adopting a resolution by rapporteur Arie
OOSTLANDER (EPP-ED, NL) with 211 votes in favour, 84 against and 46
abstentions. Therefore absolute priority should be given to the political
criteria before starting negotiations on the adoption
of EU legislation. Also, the EU’s capacity to absorb new Member States
should fully be taken into account.

MEPs praised the strong motivation and political will demonstrated by the
AKP government and by the great majority of the members of parliament in
favour of making reforms that are revolutionary for Turkey, but they said
that such reforms can only be judged on the basis of how they are put into
practice at all levels of the judicial and
security system and the civil and military administration.

MEPs criticised the continuing influence of the army in politics, business,
culture and education, continuing torture practices and mistreatment, the
intimidation of human rights defenders, the discrimination of religious
minorities and the fact that trade union freedom is not fully guaranteed.
MEPs also condemned the political
persecution of such political parties as HADEP and DEHAP. They were unhappy
with the way the trial reopened against Sakharov Prize winner Leyla Zana and
three other former DEP members of parliament was progressing and called for
an amnesty for them. The government should as soon as possible put a
proposal for the abolition of the state security courts before parliament
and take further steps to revise the role of the National Security Council.
The 10% threshold for obtaining seats in
parliament should be abolished in order to ensure a wider representation,
including predominantly Kurdish parties. Turkey should also speed up the
implementation of certain cultural rights that allow the education in and
use of languages other than Turkish in the media, especially Kurdish. The
Kurdish regions should be provided with the necessary means to stimulate
their socio-economic development.

MEPs called on Turkey to implement without delay outstanding decisions of
the European Court of Human Rights, including in the matter of
restoring property rights on Cyprus and to withdraw its forces from the
northern part of Cyprus. Settlement of the Cyprus conflict was an essential
condition for progress on Turkey’s EU membership application. Turkey was
called upon to sign the International Criminal Court treaty.

The Commission should carry out a study of the impact of Turkey joining,
including the need to reform the agricultural and structural funds policies.
The EU should have a common security and defence policy with regard to
possible new EU external borders and it should do more to support Turkey in
the fight against terrorism.

In the end, MEPs said, it will be up to Turkey to decide whether it wants,
or will be able, to accept the political principles and values of the EU as
appropriate for Turkey’s state and society.

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(Brussels)  tel.(32-2) 28 44304
e-mail :   [email protected]



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– 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

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

`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.