ANKARA (Reuters)– membership candidate Turkey on Thursday criticized the European Parliament for linking EU financial aid to the country’s efforts to resolve conflict with Kurdish rebels and to grant Kurds cultural rights.
The union’s Strasbourg-based legislative body decided on Wednesday to release 135 million euro ($116 million) in funds to help prepare Turkey for prospective membership.
But in return–it requested that the country improve respect for minority rights–scrap the death penalty and encourage cooperation for a solution to 16 years of armed conflict between Turkish troops and Kurds.
“Such European Parliament initiatives–stemming from misinformation and misjudgment–do not reflect a constructive approach ahead of forming cooperation for Turkish participation in the European Union,” said a Turkish Foreign Ministry statement faxed to Reuters on Thursday.
Turkey won EU candidacy status in December and now must work toward the bloc’s criteria in many areas to be able to join.
But granting Kurdish cultural rights or supporting efforts for a negotiated solution to a conflict that has claimed more than 30,000 lives are sensitive issues for many in Turkey.
Turkey refuses to talk to the Kurds–whom it dubs “terrorists” and many officials believe that allowing Kurdish broadcasting and education would fuel separatist nationalism.
Mesut Yilmaz–the deputy prime minister responsible for ties with the EU–this week said that Turkey’s powerful military shared those concerns and had reservations over EU entry.
The Turkish statement called on EU executive bodies to take measures to prevent tying fresh conditions to financial support.