BRUSSELS (CDCA)–Media sources revealed that the soon-to-be-released 2003 European Commission report on Turkey’s accession to the EU–documen’s a growing gap between Turkey’s stated reform efforts and the actual implementation of such reforms–reported the European Armenian Federation for Justice and Democracy (formerly ANC-Europe). The report–however–appears to rationalize this action–faulting local administrators and judicial officials as opposed to top government officials.
"The European Commission should be well aware that blaming low level officials for continued human rights abuses and violations is the Turkish Government’s usual alibi in its effort to clean up its image with international organization," stated European Armenian Federation Chairperson Hilda Tchoboian.
"In essence–this document’s tone serves to encourage the Turkish authorities in their failure to enact real reforms rather than warn them of the consequences of such action."
Early news items on the EC report–set to be unveiled on November 5–reveal that while the report cites a number of human rights violations related to freedom of speech–rights of minorities–torture–and the lack of constitutional law–it does not highlight the lack of political will to bring about positive change. Further–while the report apparently discusses the hardships of most non-Muslim minorities in Turkey–it refrains from focusing on the ongoing policy of oppression against the Armenian minority in that country.
"In addition to the religious discrimination that all Christian minorities suffer in Turkey–the Armenia’s–who are descendants of the victims of the genocide committed by the Turkish government–are subjected to a distinct policy of racism–an anti-Armenian policy of apartheid," added Tchoboian.
"Their collective rights continue to be violated through threats of confiscation and expropriation of school facilities–churches and community institutions and daily attacks on their freedom of speech–opinion and conscience. Here again–despite the promise of reforms–the government has erected insurmountable obstacles and attributed them to the poor application of the law by "local officials."
Tchoboian cited a directive issued by Turkish Minister of Education Huseyin Celik earlier this year as a flagrant example of the ongoing oppression of the Armenian minority. The April 14–2003–decree mandated that all schools in Turkey–including Armenian schools–sponsor essay competitions and events denying the Armenian Genocide. Turkish teachers who questioned the circular have been arrested and dismissed from their jobs. "This policy was orchestrated by top government leaders–not by local officials," remarked Tchoboian.
On July 24–a coalition of more than 200 European associations and organizations urged the EU Presidency–the European Commission and the European Parliament–to suspend the financial aid given to the Turkish educational system through various European programs in light of this policy of genocide denial.
"Three months after public objections registered by members of European civil society–and calls by 360 Turkish intellectuals urging the Minister to rescind the decree–we see that the absence of firm action by European authorities serves to encourage the Turkish authorities to extend with impunity their policy and practices of denial to the university level. The European Parliament’s concerns regarding this issue–as expressed in the Oostlander report–should trigger a response by European executive authorities against Turkey’s racist decrees," stated the Chairperson of the European Armenian Federation.
"We remind the EU Presidency–the European Commission and the European Parliament that the Reinforced Pre-Accession Strategy vis–vis Turkey is dependent on that country’s fundamental respect for human rights. As such–European subsidies given to a country guilty of blatant human rights double-talk must be reconsidered," concluded Mrs. Tchoboian.