"These were not negotiations; this was surrender. The idea of an integrated Europe has been seriously compromised"
BRUSSELS–The European Council–in a meeting on Friday in Brussels–voted to open discussions–without any preconditions–on Turkey’s future admission to the European Union. The process is set to begin on October 3–2005.
Debates preceding the European Council vote were heated–with Turkey’s failure to recognize Cyprus being the primary obstacle. The specific point of contention was the Turkish Prime Minister’s refusal to sign a draft Customs Agreement on Friday between Turkey and the ten new members of the European Union. In the end–the European Council yielded to Turkish deman’s–agreeing to postpone this signature until sometime before next October.
The draft EU entry terms Turkey has agreed to dictate the following: Turkey must sign a customs accord extending to all EU members–including Cyprus; the accord must be signed by the start of entry talks–proposed for October 2005; membership talks will be open-ended; there is no guarantee of full membership if conditions are not met; if negotiations do fail–Europe will not turn its back on Turkey; Turkey must continue with political and economic reforms; some safeguards may remain over migration of workers from Turkey.
A Turkish official quoted Erdogan as saying at one point: "You are choosing 600,000 Greeks (Cypriots) over 70 million Turks–and I cannot explain this to my people."
The Council decided to open talks with Turkey despite the fact that Turkey fell short of meeting the clearly identified expectations of the European Parliament–as adopted in a resolution this past Wednesday. Among these are calls for Turkey’s recognition of the Armenian genocide–recognition of an independent Cyprus–progress on the Kurdish question–and human rights concerns. Significantly–European Council members did not even raise the Parliament’s recommendations at their meeting.
In a dramatic development that lowers the bar for Turkey’s eventual acceptance into the Union–the Council abandoned its traditional consensus model–in which one nation could essentially veto Turkey’s membership. In its place–they stipulated that fully one third of the EU member states would need to object before negotiations are halted.
"These were not negotiations; this was a surrender. The idea of an integrated Europe has been seriously compromised," declared Laurent Leylekian–Executive Director of the European Armenian Federation. "This unfortunate result is due to the weakness of the European Union’s political structures and the failure of leadership on the part of European heads of state in standing up to Ankara’s inflexibility and outright rejection of European values."
"We are–of course–gratified that our efforts over the last several years have successfully placed the Armenian genocide and Turkey’s blockade of Armenia on the agenda of the highest levels of discussions concerning Turkey’s possible acceptance into the European Union. However–in light of the failure of European leaders to stand up against Turkey’s aggressive and denialist government–we call on citizens of the European Union to safeguard Europe’s values through the exercise their democratic rights." added Leylekian.