BRUSSELS–In its recently published 2003 report on "Turkey’s application for membership to the EU," the European Parliament firmly stated the human rights reforms required of Turkey as a pre-condition to joining the European Union. Presented on March 19–2003–the first version of the report–written by Mr. Arie Oostlander (Christian Democrat–Netherlands)–analyses whether Turkey meets the Copenhagen decision criteria for candidate-country accession to the European Union.
This new report contrasts in its strong tone with previous reports presented by Mr. Morillon in 2000 and Mr. Lamassoure in 2001. The new report emphasizes that "the required reforms are so fundamental that they necessitate the establishment of a new constitution–explicitly based not on Kemalist principles but on European democratic principles–which balance the rights of the individual and minorities against collective rights in accordance with the customary European standards–such as those set out in the European Convention on the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms." The report also firmly denounces the blockade against Armenia–specifically cited as an "embargo"–and for the first time–explicitly includes the lifting of the blockade among the pre-conditions of Turkey’s accession.
However–in contrast to the otherwise strong tone of the report–the report fails to address the issue of the Armenian Genocide and its denial–and instead calls on "Turkish and Armenian academics–social organizations and NGOs to embark on a dialogue with each other–or to continue existing dialogues–to finally put their past differences behind them."
"We applaud the candor of the author because we are convinced that Turkey will reform only if we speak openly and truthfully. In particular–we hail the denunciation of Turkey’s aggressive attitude toward the Republic of Armenia and the recognition of Turkey’s incompatibility with the status of candidate-country," declared Laurent Leylekian–Executive Director of the European Armenian Federation.
"However–we are deeply disappointed at Mr. Ooslander’s decision to avoid the issue of the Armenian Genocide in a specific effort–according to him–’not to offend Turks’. We remind the European Parliament that genocide is a crime that must face international justice and cannot be a matter of any individuals’ discretion. The Parliament’s Gahrton report of February 2002 explicitly mentioned the Armenian Genocide–and last week the EU-Armenia inter-parliamentarian delegation also explicitly reaffirmed that ‘the European Parliament position on the issue is reflected in its resolutions of 18 June 1987 and 28 February 2002’. We see no reason that this report on Turkey should adopt a different position," Leylekian added. "The European Armenian Federation is also disturbed that the report makes no mention of the current threats made by Turkey against the Armenian community–including the destruction of the Armenian cultural heritage–threats to seize church properties–as well as repression of the teaching of the Armenian language and culture" followed Leylekian. "We are confident that the European Parliament will express the truth on these points as it did with regard to the others. Turkey’s recent threats to invade Iraq demonstrate the distance that still separates this country from the values of the European Union," he concluded.
Since Turkey was granted candidate-country status at the Helsinki European Council in 1999–the European Parliament each year adopts a report on Turkey ‘s progress towards accession. In 2000–this report called upon Turkey to publicly recognize the Armenian Genocide. In 2001–the Lamassoure report replaced the mention of the Armenian Genocide with a reference to the Turkish Armenian Reconciliation Commission. In 2002–in the report on the "European Union’s relations with the South Caucasus," the European Parliament reaffirmed its position of 18 June 1987 on the Armenian Genocide issue. The Oostlander report will be submitted to the Foreign Affairs Committee at the end of April–and then will be presented to the entire Parliament during the plenary session in May.mes everyone knows they have committed is ready to repeat them," he said.