STRASBOURG—Official Ankara on Thursday rejected a report by the European Parliament, which among other provisions called for Turkey’s recognition of the Armenian Genocide and sent a stern warning to Turkey over the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) government’s “backsliding” on democracy and rule of law.
“We will consider the report null and void,” said Turkey’s EU Affairs Minister Volkan Bozakir, whose rejection of the report by Turkey was reported by the state-run Anadolu news agency.
The European Parliament approved a 2015 progress report for Turkey membership to the European Union. The report urges Turkey to “open the archives and come to terms with its past,” by recognizing the Armenian Genocide.
“There is no moment in our history that we feel ashamed of. All of our archives are open. We believe this is an issue that should be decided by historians. Politicians should not write history,” Bozakir was quoted as saying from Vienna.
Earlier Thursday, ahead of the European Parliament vote, Bozkır told Anadolu the Turkey would reject the report if it maintained the language on the Armenian Genocide.
Turkey’s failure to recognize the Armenian Genocide was not the only scathing aspect of the European Parliament report, which sternly warned the government of its “backsliding” on democracy and the rule of law.
The parliament “is deeply concerned” that Ankara is violating criteria needed to join the European Union “in the light of the backsliding on respect for democracy and rule of law inside Turkey,” said a resolution approved by members of the European Parliament), reported Agence France Presse.
Rapporteur for Turkey at the European Parliament, Kati Piri, said the regression in areas such as freedom of expression and the independence of the judiciary was “particularly worrying,” adding that the overall pace of reforms has also slowed down.
“We also express our concern about the escalation of violence in the southeast,” Piri said, citing figures that nearly 400,000 civilians had to flee certain provinces where extensive operations against the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) are being conducted.
The European Parliament members also called on Turkey to end “intimidation of journalists” and condemned the “violent and illegal take-over of several newspapers,” including daily Zaman. A local court had appointed trustees to Zaman media group, which is considered to be linked to U.S.-based Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen, who Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and the AKP accuse of heading a “terrorist organization” aiming to topple the government.
The report also called for an immediate ceasefire in the country’s southeast while calling upon the PKK to lay down its arms and “use peaceful and legal means to voice its expectations.”