|"Turkey in Europe: Opportunity for Change?"|
Turkey in Europe: Opportunity for Change? The Kurdish Human Rights Project Releases A New Report on the EU Accession Partnership between Turkey and the EU
Press Update: 7th November 2000
On the eve of the European Commission's public announcement of its EU Accession Partnership Draft Agreement and Progress Report on Turkey, the Kurdish Human Rights Project would like to announce its new report on Turkey's EU Accession, Turkey in Europe: Opportunity for Change?
Turkey in Europe offers a detailed list of recommendations to the European Union that focus on how Turkey can be assisted in both cleaning up its human rights record and changing its legal system so that it is fully aligned with the standards set by the EU regarding rule of law, democracy and human rights. Most importantly, Turkey in Europe presents a full argument for the crucial need to ensure that respect for the human rights of Kurds and other minorities in Turkey becomes a key aspect in any accession agreement.
The Accession Partnership Agreement is expected to set out the specific short- and medium-term tasks that Turkey must complete in order to continue on the road to EU membership. However, as Kerim Yildiz, Executive Director of the Kurdish Human Rights Project (KHRP), notes, "It is not enough to merely lay down standards for Turkey, the EU must ensure that they put in place an effective mechanism for measuring the implementation of European Union standards by Turkey."
This past July, Turkish Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit commented that the time was not "ripe" to discuss Kurdish rights with the EU. The Kurdish Human Rights Project, in this new report, firmly disagrees with this viewpoint. Indeed, the time has long since passed for Kurdish human rights to be put solidly on the table of tasks to be achieved for Turkey's full membership in the EU. The past decade has seen international condemnation of the long list of Turkey's gross violations against Kurdish human rights. Turkey has refused to recognise Kurds as a minority and has actively suppressed Kurdish cultural identity for the last 80 years. Following years of Turkish State violence against Kurds and other minorities that include extra-judicial killing, torture, large-scale destruction of homes and forced evacuations, the EU and Turkey must now seriously tackle the issue of Kurdish and minority rights.Turkey was declared a candidate for EU membership last December. However, despite 23 judgments handed down from the European Court of Human Rights in cases against Turkey brought by the Kurdish Human Rights Project on behalf of Kurdish victims of torture, extra-judicial killings, destruction of homes and other human rights violations, the last year has seen Turkey fail to carry out any major improvement of Its human rights record.