Turkey in Europe, is it the end?

European Armenian Federation - 07 December 2008

The draft report presented Tuesday in the European Parliament seems to definitely abandon the prospect of Turkey’s progress as well as its accession perspective.

- December 2009 set as a deadline date

The Member of the European Parliament Ria Oomen-Ruijten (European Popular Party, Conservative, Netherlands) presented on Tuesday the draft version of her 2008 report on Turkey in the Foreign Affairs Committee of the European Parliament. Significantly, this presentation occurred late in front of a sparse assembly of Turkey’s supportive MEPs and of Anatolian journalists.

From a general perspective, the draft resolution impresses through the resigned dissatisfaction it expresses: “concerns” and “regrets” are the main message delivered to Ankara while accession prospect is even no more mentioned, but to recall that it is subordinated to the “full compliance with all the Copenhagen criteria and EU integration capacity”.

On the other hand, the report recalls its “concern to see in Turkey, for the third consecutive year, a continuous slowdown of the reform process” despite the strong mandate of the AKP government. It regrets too that the EC-Turkey Association Agreement and the Additional Protocol – which would be considered by Brussels as an implicit recognition of Cyprus by Turkey – “have not yet been implemented fully by the Turkish government” and it recalls that the non-fulfilment by Ankara of its commitment “by December 2009 will further seriously affect the process of negotiations”.

“We are pleased to note the new tone of this report, compared to the previous year, which is now pointing out Turkey’s shortcomings rather than excusing them. Facing the countless failed pledges of Ankara, this report gives ground to the credibility of the EU political approach” stated Laurent Leylekian, executive director of the European Armenian Federation.

About Human Rights and freedom of speech issues, the report regrets that “freedom of expression and freedom of the press are still not fully protected in Turkey”, that the amendment to Article 301 of the Penal Code was not sufficient, as people continue to be prosecuted” and it is now calling for the repeal of this article. It regrets also “the frequent website bans, the extent of which draws Turkey away from standards of a democratic, pluralistic society”.

About minorities, the draft report expresses its concerns “about continuing hostility and violence” that they endure and about the fact that “Turkey has made no progress on ensuring cultural diversity and promoting respect for, and protection of, minorities”

“These actual facts are very important to remind us, especially now, as Turkey is currently threatening even Europeans in Europe, especially those who dare to mention the Kurdish issue or the Armenian genocide – for instance columnists Alberto Rosselli, Dogan Özgüden or professor Ronald Mönsch” commented the director of the European Armenian Federation.

About the various aspects of the Armenian issue, Mrs Oomen-Ruijten report “Welcomes the visit of President Gül to Armenia in September 2008 following an invitation from President Sarkisian, and hopes that it will indeed foster a climate favourable to the normalisation of relations between their countries”.

The paragraph also “calls on the Turkish government to re-open its border with Armenia and to restore full economic and political relations with Armenia”. Lastly, Mrs Oomen-Ruijten restates her motto, calling “once again on the Turkish and Armenian governments to start a process of reconciliation, in respect of the present and the past, allowing for a frank and open discussion of past events; and calls on the Commission to facilitate this reconciliation process”.

“This time again, Mrs Oomen-Ruijten keeps on to equalise victims and their butchers while genocide is an imprescriptible crime against Humanity that cannot be reduced to bilateral relations between two States” declared Laurent Leylekian.

“We regret this outmoded attitude through which Turkey is encouraged to keep on its denial policy and through which she put in jeopardy Turkish intellectuals who are now less afraid to talk about the Armenian Genocide as such than some MEPs” he concluded.

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