ANKARA: Turkey’s Growing Pain Towards EU Accession


Journal of Turkish Weekly, Turkey
Sept 6 2006

Emre Ozkan, JTW – Ankara / The Committee on Foreign Affairs of the
European Parliament (EP) approved Turkey Report late on September 4th,
which was prepared by Christian Democrat MEP Camiel Eurlings.

EP, in the report, repeated its call for recognition of so-called
Armenian genocide prior to EU full membership of Turkey. Different
from previous reports, the report claimed that Turkey committed
genocide against Pontus Greeks and Assyrians besides Armenians.

The report also complains that the pace of the reforms slowed in 2005
and the implementation of reforms still remains uneven, underlining
that significant further efforts are required in regard to fundamental
freedoms and human rights, in particular freedom of expression,
women’s rights, religious freedoms, trade union rights and cultural
rights, and the further strengthening of the fight against torture
and ill-treatment.

According to Hurriyet, Eurlings said that the report is positive and
urged Turkey to take steps on the path to democratization.

Eurlings said that he welcomed the report in general. Noting that
the report strongly condemned PKK terrorism, Eurlings said that PKK
terrorism couldn’t be considered legitimate, adding that the report
shows that they will never tolerate terrorism.

On the other hand, the report of the EP which requires Turkey to
recognize the so-called Armenian genocide as well as Pontus and Syrian
genocides was even reacted by European Union circles: "Let’s not
offend Turkey. We are being ridiculous. This report has no balance."

The Turkish Foreign Ministry on Tuesday said it strongly rejected the
EP report compiled by the Dutch legislator Camiel Eurlings, saying
that it was incompatible with the prestige and gravity of the EP.

Moreover, Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has dismissed
elements of the report adopted on Turkey’s progress towards meeting
the criteria of European Union membership. "The resolutions adopted
by the European Parliament are not binding," Erdogan said during a
press conference in Ankara. "We have not accepted anything about the
so-called Armenian genocide. Our stance on that issue is obvious."

Foreign Ministry spokesman Namik Tan said that the controversial
report would not contribute to the improvement of ties between Turkey
and the European Union. "The report lacks commonsense and objectivity."

Spokesman Tan added that the European lawmakers should act with
consideration and amend the draft report.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that the European Parliament
was dreaming if it felt that Turkey would change its position on issues
such as accepting claims that the Ottoman Empire had carried out an
act of genocide against its Armenian population during World War I.

Assos. Prof. Dr. Mehmet Ozcan, Head of European Studies Center of
Ankara based think-tank International Strategic Research Organization
(ISRO), argued that the report is asking for impossible things from
Turkey. "Turkey cannot bring stones from the Moon", he stated. He
also mentions that how Belgium explains her acts in Congo or France in
Algeria? "If you are going to hold Turkey accountable for acts in its
past, then how will you explain your own past of genocide respectively
in Congo and Algeria and violence in the World War II", he added. He
emphasized that the report will be amended in the coming meetings.

Stating that he is not happy with the report of Eurlings, Mixed
Parliament Commission Co-chairman Joost Lagendijk also said: "Instead
of encouraging Turkey’s membership, Eurlings has put more provisions.

Turkey will think that the EP will keep demanding new provisions
every year. The report confused me, it does not have a balance."

The controversial report asks Turkey for recognizing so-called Armenian
genocide as well as Assyrian and Pontus genocides. With this report,
so-called Pontus and Assyrian genocides have entered in an official
EU report for the first time.

The report raises questions on Turkish public opinion about the
objectivity of the EP and EU officials. The report will be voted in
the general session of the EP in Strasbourg, which will take place
between September 25th and 28th.