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Resolution of the Brussels Conference "CoE's Committee of Ministers supervises Turkey's...

Resolution of the Brussels Conference "CoE's Committee of Ministers supervises Turkey's execution of ECHR judgements"

Civic Forum for monitoring the EU - Turkey process founded.

International Conference
"CoE's Committee of Ministers supervises Turkey's execution of ECHR judgements"
22-23 November
European Parliament


The International Conference on CoE's Committee of Ministers supervises Turkey's execution of ECHR judgements brought together leading human rights institutions, political parties, academics, writers, legal experts and prominent Turkish and Kurdish intellectuals from Europe, the United States, Africa and the Middle East. The conference was convened to exchange ideas and formulate a constructive and coherent response to Turkey's impending negotiations on 17 December 2004. These negotiations will be of historic importance to both Kurds and Turks as they represent the first opportunity that the Kurdish issue has been addressed within a wider global context since Turkey became a member of the Council of Europe.


The European Commission released its report on 6 October 2004. That report attempted to outline the political, economic, social, cultural, linguistic and civil reforms that the Turkish Government has passed. The Commission has now issued its assessment as to whether or not Turkey has implemented those reforms sufficiently to warrant negotiations on accession status. It was this report that was the impetus for convening the conference because members of the European, Turkish and Kurdish communities felt that the report failed to address the situation of the Kurds including the resurgence of the conflict in the Kurdish regions in the South East. The accession negotiations will provide unprecedented political space to press for far reaching legal reform and to highlight the plight of the Kurds in Turkey. The Conference acknowledges and supports the reforms so far carried out by the Turkish Government. Ongoing dialogue about the peaceful resolution of the Kurdish issues is by implication a fundamental component to the Copenhagen Criteria. The Conference recognizes that accession is a positive step in bringing democracy, human rights, rule of law and a lasting peaceful solution to Turkey.

Turkey and Accession:

Turkey applied for association membership of the EEC in 1957 and entered into Association Agreement in 1963 that offered the future possibility of full membership. An application to become a full member was turned down in 1987 at a time when the conflict in the Kurdish regions of Turkey was gaining momentum. Since then, the relaxation in violence which occurred in the late 1990s as a result of the unilateral cease-fire (combined with the 1993 decision of the Copenhagen European Council that the 'associated countries' would be offered the chance of membership) helped set the foundation for Turkey's progression to candidature in 1999. After several years of reports and mediation concerning Turkey's Accession Partnership, European leaders decided that if Turkey met the required standards and recommendations, accession negotiations could begin in December 2004. Turkey's forthcoming accession is strongly welcomed in some parts as potentially creating a 'bridge' between Europe and the wider Muslim World. However, one of the most significant impediments to accession is Turkey's human rights record.

The Kurds and Accession:

The Kurds in Turkey comprise between 15 to 20 million of Turkey's population of 63 million. This represents over 3% of the inhabitants of the European Union, a significant population group. Kurds are, on the whole, conditionally supportive of Turkey entering the EU. For them, accession presents the possibility of an end to decades of repression and abuse, and offers an unprecedented chance to ensure that their identity is acknowledged and respected. It should also open doors to enhanced dialogue on the resolution of ongoing armed conflict. However, there remain concerns that the political desire to bring Turkey into the European Union may undermine an objective analysis as to whether or not Turkey meets the Copenhagen Criteria. There remain widespread concerns that the accession process may be accelerated at the expense of human rights and the achievement of an enduring solution to the Kurdish issue.

The Assyrians and Other Minorities and Accession

These human and minority rights concerns would likewise relate to the Assyrians and other minorities within Turkey and this Conference reiterates its concerns for the plight of these other minorities and makes clear that the final resolution equally applies to the Assyrians and other minorities within Turkey where relevant.

The EU and Accession:

On 17th December 2004, EU leaders are set to decide upon whether or not to open formal accession negotiations with Turkey, and, if so, under what conditions negotiations should advance. Decisions on the commencement of official accession negotiations are formally based upon fulfilment of the criteria for EU membership as determined at the Copenhagen meeting of the European Council in 1993. Among other issues, the Copenhagen Criteria requires adherence to democratic values, rule of law, human rights and respect for and protection of minorities. The Commission has submitted reports on a yearly basis detailing Turkey's progress towards fulfilment of the Criteria. On 6 October, the Commission finally recommended the opening of accession talks and it was as a result of these developments that the Conference was convened in order to fashion a response by leading elements of European, Turkish and Kurdish civil society to the European Commission's recommendations. After hearing and considering the interventions made by Conference delegates, this Conference has resolved unanimously to adopt the following set of declarations concerning the accession process and initiate the following calls for action to be undertaken by the host organizers.

International Conference
"CoE's Committee of Ministers supervises Turkey's execution of ECHR judgements"
22-23 November
European Parliament

Pursuant to the presentation of Conference papers and interventions made by delegates, this Conference has unanimously resolved to adopt the following declarations concerning the EU-Turkish Accession Process and initiate the following calls for action to be undertaken by the host organisers.

The Conference issues the following declarations:

(1) This Conference believes that the impending EU Council decision of December 2004 constitutes one of the most momentous decisions likely to be taken by the European Union. The decision to begin accession negotiations with Turkey will radically change the lives of Turks, Kurds and Europeans forever. In short, the accession process will determine the nature of the European Union and the Turkey in the 21st Century and will fundamentally affect the status and rights of the Kurds in Turkey;

(2) The Conference acknowledges the Turkish Government's recent reform packages but urges the Government to fully implement these packages and continue the process of fundamental reform in the wake of accession negotiations beginning;

(3) The Conference further declares its conditional support for the Commission's recommendation of 6 October 2004 to the European Council to begin negotiations with Turkey to accede to the European Union over the course of the next few years;

(4) In particular, the Conference expresses its conditional support for the three pillar approach of the European Commission to any future accession process provided that approach includes within the relevant pillars the development of concrete proposals concerning the domestic recognition and respect for Kurdish rights as provided for under domestic and international law. This must include a constitutional resettlement in Turkey in which the existence and rights of the Kurds is recognised within any new Turkish Constitution;

(5) The Conference asserts that the resolution of the Kurdish conflict is central to the establishment of a stable, democratic and peaceful Turkey capable of entering the European Union. True democratic reform can only occur if Turkey undertakes new political reform to its state institutions and banishes adherence to ethnic nationalism which is the root cause of the conflict and Turkey's endemic instability;

(6) This Conference therefore asserts that the Kurdish people and their representatives have a fundamental role to play in the accession process and should be given a full participatory role by the EU and Turkey in the debate over Turkey's democratic and constitutional future;

(7) To this end the Conference calls upon the Turkish Government to fully and unconditionally comply with all international instruments concerning human and minority rights guaranteed by the European Convention of Human Rights, in particular, the rights concerning freedom of expression and association without discrimination, in order to ensure that such a democratic debate can take place. In this respect the Conference further calls upon Turkey to constitutionally give recognition to the existence of the Kurdish people within Turkey and urges ratification of the Council of Europe's European Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities. It believes that the European Commission should adopt both of these measures as condition precedents to Turkey's eventual entry into the European Union;

(8) The Conference further calls upon the European Commission to endeavour to use its good offices to itself actively develop a democratic platform whereby the constituent elements of Turkey, including the Kurdish people, can freely enter into dialogue and debate with the Government over possible reform to the Constitution and an end to ethnic hostilities. In this respect the Conference requests the European Commission to publicly clarify its position over the issue concerning political reform and the resolution of the Kurdish issue in the light of its 1998 finding that "a civil and non-military solution must be found to the situation in South-east Turkey particularly since many of the violations of civil and political rights observed in the country are connected in one way or another with this issue."

(9) The Conference calls upon all political parties and individuals who represent the Kurds in the Region to issue a declaration in relation to their position in respect of the EU accession decision and the initiatives proposed by this Conference. In particular, the Conference calls upon all parties militarily engaged in the Kurdish conflict, whether in Turkey or Northern Iraq, to cease military hostilities and commit themselves to peaceful forms of conflict resolution, so as to help the EU, Turkey and the Kurds foster and establish the beginning of a democratic platform for dialogue between all the constituent parts of, and peoples of, Turkey and where relevant, Northern Iraq (South Kurdistan);

(10) The Conference further calls upon the leaders of the EU to use their best endeavours to end hostilities between parties and help bring together in an International Conference the legitimate political and democratic representatives of the Kurds with the Turkish Government to resolve the Kurdish issue, provided all parties involved are not engaged in any military hostilities and have committed themselves to a peaceful resolution of the Kurdish conflict. To this end, the Conference urges both the EU and Turkey to give serious consideration to promoting a general amnesty for all political prisoners in the context of a process of truth and reconciliation within the spirit of justice.

The Conference calls for the following action to be taken:

(11) For the organisers of this historic Conference to ensure the widest distribution of this Resolution and that specific proposals are communicated to Turkey, the European Union and other relevant bodies;

(12) To set up a standing Civic Commission on Turkish EU Accession. This Commission shall consist of leading European, Turkish and Kurdish elected politicians, NGO's, academics, and human rights and environmental activists. The purpose of the Commission is to undertake to monitor and conduct regular audits of the European Commission's performance in ensuring Turkey's full compliance with the accession criteria as defined within the meaning of the accession agreements.

(13) To further set up, if so advised by the Civic Commission on EU Turkish Accession, a number of relevant standing committees under the auspices of the Commission to deal with numerous thematic issues arising out of accession. Consideration should be given to setting up the following specific select committees:

(a) A Kurdish Select Committee with a specific mandate to deal with the Kurdish issue and promote a democratic platform for dialogue between the constituent parts and peoples of Turkey;

(b) A Council of Europe Select Committee to monitor Turkey's compliance with judgments of the European Court of Human Rights and to track whether it has ratified relevant outstanding Council of Europe Conventions;

(c) A Constitutional Select Committee whose task would be to identify concrete constitutional and legislative measures aimed at dismantling out-dated political provisions and practices within Turkey which hinder the drive for democratic reform. These measures would then be submitted to the European Commission for consideration;

(d) A legal Select Committee to use all existing international human rights instruments and available remedies to legally enforce any breach of either the European Union or Turkey's non compliance with any accession agreement or other relevant international instrument or law.

(14) To establish a steering committee responsible for appointing members to the Civic Commission and its standing committees.

(15) To establish a series of yearly conferences to be held both at the European Parliament and in the relevant regions to consider the annual audit reports of the Civic Commission on EU Turkish Accession.

This International Conference ends with an appeal to all delegates and wider representatives of European, Turkish and Kurdish civil society to promote the declarations and actions of this Conference Resolution as well as other similar initiatives currently underway in Turkey and to nominate any individual or organisation that can play a vital role in the Civic Commission on EU Turkish Accession.

Mark Muller
Kerim Yildiz
Kariane Westrheim
Hans Branschedt

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