|Steps taken by Turkey only ‘scratch the surface'|
Today, in the European Parliament in Brussels , academics, Turkish, Kurdish and European politicians, influential lawyers, human rights defenders and writers will gather to discuss the human rights and minority rights dimensions of Turkey 's accession to the EU.
The Director of the Kurdish Human Rights Project, Kerim Yildiz gave the opening speech where he asserted ‘the steps taken so far by the Turkish government have only scratched the surface', in reference to bringing the country in line with European human rights standards.
The Third International Conference on the EU, Turkey and the Kurds, is supported by Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu, Dr. Shirin Ebadi, Bianca Jagger, Harold Pinter, Noam Chomsky and Mehmed Uzun.
The Conference is providing a democratic platform for the discussion of the critical role the EU should play in establishing the parameters of peaceful dialogue with all the stakeholders in the resolution of the Kurdish issue and greater democratisation in Turkey .
At this time of upheaval and social unrest in Turkey , the Conference represents a great opportunity for dialogue concerning the steps Turkey and the EU need to take for the smooth progression of the accession process.
The findings of the conference will be published and presented to the European Commission and thus present an opportunity for NGOs and individuals with regional expertise to highlight to decision-makers the successes and failures of the Turkish Government's reforms.
About the EUTCC
In November 2004 the Rafto Foundation, Kurdish Human Rights Project and Medico International hosted the first conference on EU Turkey and the Kurds in the European Parliament. As an outcome of this historic event, these organisations and the Bar Human Rights Committee of England and Wales established a standing Civic Commission, the EU-Turkey Civic Commission (EUTCC). Due to the vibrancy of the dialogue of the 2004 conference, a second EUTCC conference was held in September 2005.
The EUTCC is in favour of Turkish EU membership because the EU route remains the greatest hope for securing a civilised, democratic and pluralist Turkey in which a negotiated political solution to the Kurdish question is realised, but only if progress towards membership is based on tangible improvements in the protection of human rights and freedoms and the tackling of the plight of the Kurds is firmly integrated into accession negotiations.
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