AAA: Assembly Raises Human Rights Issue At Turkey-EU Seminar

Armenian Assembly of America
122 C Street, NW, Suite 350
Washington, DC 20001
Phone: 202-393-3434
Fax: 202-638-4904
Email: [email protected]
June 16, 2004
CONTACT: David Zenian
E-mail: [email protected]


WASHINGTON, DC – The Armenian Assembly Tuesday raised the question of human
rights in Turkey and specifically issues regarding reported calls for
introducing laws to allow the removal of the Armenian Patriarch of Istanbul
at a panel discussion on Turkey’s EU Prospects and Europe’s Domestic

Debating the pros and cons of Turkey’s membership in the European Union were
Turkish and American journalists and policy experts invited by the Western
Policy Center to evaluate where Europe and Turkey stood on the thorny
question of whether Turkey should be allowed to become a full member of the
European family of nations.

Among the panelists, Soner Cagaptay, coordinator of the Turkish Research
Program at The Washington Institute, was the most vocal supporter of full
Turkish membership. Cagaptay was also critical of European nations who, he
said, were using double standards in their approach to Turkey.

“For some European nations the cup is half empty and not half full when it
comes to Turkey. We have fulfilled all their demands, and yet, we are
treated differently. In some and even most cases we are not worse than
several East European countries,” he said.

Repeating often stated remarks by Turkish government officials that Turkey
had introduced and implemented laws to safeguard human rights as underlined
by the “Copenhagen criteria” of the European Union, Cagaptay said:

“We are in full compliance on issues involving respect of minority rights
and separation of church and state and many other key points.”

While several members of the audience raised questions involving economic
integration, demographic changes and cultural issues, Armenian Assembly
Director of Public Affairs David Zenian asked Cagapray for his views on
recent Turkish newspaper reports involving the Armenian Patriarchate of

“We read in a recent report published by the Turkish newspaper Cumhurriyet
that the Turkish Interior Ministry is pressing for the passage of laws which
will allow more control over the election process of the Armenian Patriarch
including a clause giving the government authority to depose the head of the
Armenian church.

“Imagine the Italian government enacting laws which not only dictates that
the Pope be an Italian citizen – the Turkish government already demands that
the Patriarch be a Turkish citizen – but also giving itself the right to
depose the Pope if it regards the election to be irregular or flawed?”
Zenian asked.

Cagaptay had no comment. Instead he returned to his earlier grievances,
repeating his allegation of European double standards.

The Armenian Assembly of America is the largest Washington-based nationwide
organization promoting public understanding and awareness of Armenian
issues. It is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt membership organization.


From: Emil Lazarian | Ararat NewsPress