AS (2013) CR 12
2013 ORDINARY SESSION
Tuesday 23 April 2013 at 10 a.m.
Post-monitoring dialogue with Turkey
The following texts were submitted for inclusion in the official report by members who were present in the Chamber but were prevented by lack of time from delivering them.
Mr HARUTYUNYAN (Armenia) — Today, I shall not speak of the Armenian-Turkish protocols or the Karabakh issue, nor shall I dwell on the Armenian or, for that matter, Turkish lobbies.
Today, I shall only remember the children who, in 1915 Ottoman Turkey, left behind their childhood to endure unspeakable atrocities in the deserts of Deir ez-Zor. Lessons could still be learned from their plight – lessons that could inform us, as we face the challenges before us today.
Present day Turkey seems to be represented by two contradictory realities. The first is the Turkey of Orhan Pamuk, Elif Shafak, Taner Akçam, Fatima Göçek, Murat Belge, Ragip Zarakolu and all the intellectuals who do not fear history, accept past mistakes, and extend apologies to the Armenian people for atrocities that they themselves have not perpetrated personally. It is also the people of Turkey who, on 19 January 2007, took to the streets chanting “Hepimiz Hrant Dink’iz,” “Hepimiz Ermeni’yiz” “We are all Hrant Dink,” “We are all Armenian.”
The second is the Turkey that sees no dark stains on its nation’s past, but considers it a taint that tens of thousands of Armenians currently living in Turkey are not being expelled on ethnic grounds; that the access to Armenia by air has not been shut down as has the one by way of land. It is the Turkey of those who believe it possible to live for ever in imperial stereotypes, fears, and misgivings; the Turkey that presents its history as a series of infallible and spotless ascents.
The two Turkeys are everywhere, at every step, whether in Turkey proper, or beyond its borders. Everywhere one encounters those Turks whose grandfathers, in 1915, put their own lives at risk to rescue and provide asylum to their Armenian neighbours. They rightly stand proud for what their grandfathers had done. Proud they stand, those Turks, in whose courtyards the spirit of the Armenian continues to roam, in whose familial memories Armenians continue to exist as neighbours and friends.
Increasingly rare nowadays, is the other Turkey, represented by those for whom the history of their country begins on 19 May 1919; for whom the dozens of diverse identities living in the country simply do not exist and are invisible; for whom the illusion of a homogeneous Turkey, made up of only Turks, continues to reign.
I am confident that the victory of the first Turkey is the only viable alternative. Sooner or later, our neighbour shall shed the tormenting burden it has hauled on its shoulders for so long.
In closing, I would like to quote from former United Kingdom Prime Minister Tony Blair: “Turkey must let go of a selective perception of history and opt for true history” instead.
Mr KAIKKONEN (Finland) — As we all know, monitoring is a crucial part of the work done by the Council of Europe. This means that member States need to follow in both law and practice the human rights standards and obligations set out by the Council of Europe. The principles of democracy, human rights and of a constitutional State should be the guidelines for action in every member State.
Turkey has been subject to monitoring during the early 21th century and during that time Turkey has succeeded in reforming laws and practices in many areas. It seems safe to say that monitoring has provided a boost to move forward. In 2004 Turkey was transferred to a post-monitoring phase, which should not be taken as sign of a failure. Instead, post-monitoring is a chance to enhance legislation and practices to match the common criteria by giving Turkey 12 specific points that still needs to be worked on.
I thank the rapporteur, Ms Josette Durrieu for providing us such a detailed report on Turkey’s actions on these 12 points. There has been a lot of progress. For example, the institution of ombudsman has been established. I was also very pleased to learn that Turkey was the first member state to ratify the Istanbul Convention that focuses on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence. The ratification was an important step, and now we need to see this convention put into practice. Violence towards women still remains an issue and the work to prevent it needs to continue. Furthermore the status and rights of minorities remains an issue where there are still lots of steps to be taken.
I must admit I was a bit disappointed to learn that public opinion in Turkey towards the European Union has decreased dramatically over the past decade. According to the report this is due to many different reasons. Both the citizens of Turkey and European Union countries might feel that the negotiations are only continuing in theory and that there is not enough political will on either side to finish the process that has been going on for almost a decade. However there is no point in negotiating for negotiations sake. Both the European Union and Turkey need to remind themselves why the negotiations started in the first place: if the admission criteria are fully met by Turkey, both parties are able to benefit from the unification.
Turkey can play a crucial role as a mediator between the East and the West. Its economy has continued to grow despite the global economic crises. It has managed to combine Islamic culture with democratic and secular State. On the other hand the European Union can provide Turkey with the advantages of free markets and monetary union. However, in order to get there Turkey needs to implement in both law and practice the human rights requirements set out by the Council of Europe. Completing the 12 steps would act as a sign of a great political will on Turkey’s side. The European Union could not close its eyes to such significant progress.
The rapporteur stresses throughout the report that there are substantial changes going on in Turkey. The reform of the constitution is not finished and the reform will affect the Turkish society greatly. However the results cannot be seen before the upcoming elections in 2014 and 2015. Therefore I must support the rapporteur’s conclusion. It would be beneficial to continue the post-monitoring dialogue with Turkey to ensure that further actions are taken in order to fulfil the principles set out by the Council of Europe.
Ms POSTANJYAN (Armenia) — The Armenian genocide is a fact of history which was committed by the Young Turk government of the Turkish Ottoman empire during World War One. Evidence and facts of Armenian genocide – Yeghern is the Armenian word for “catastrophe,” depicting the horrific acts which began in 1915 and ended in 1923 – are generally known and available.
Today I stand in this hall wearing a special T-shirt to urge you once again to heed the requirements of not only Armenians but also the world community. Many States of the Council of Europe have recognised and condemned the crimes of the Ottoman Empire; now it is time for recognition by Turkey as well.
I declare on behalf of the Armenians, and convey to the Turkish authorities, we do not give up our rights in the name of our ancestors, and we intend to return, become the owner of our rights, owner of the land and of our civilisation.
On 24 April 2013 it is the 98th anniversary commemoration of the Armenian genocide. One of the most important ways in which we can honour the memory of the perished is to raise awareness and ask others to recognise the horrors of the past.
His Holiness Aram Catholicos of Cilicia succinctly formulated the objectives in three key Armenian words: "Hishel, Hishetsnel, yev Bahanchel" - To Remember, To Remind, and To Reclaim. His Holiness went on to explain: "for 100 years, we stressed the remembrance of the genocide. We lit candles, organised commemorations and published books. These important activities will imbue our youth with the sacred testament and souls of our martyrs. Yet, we should not singly focus on this subject. For 100 years, we reminded people through demonstrations, lobbying, and raising our voices. We aim to continue these activities with different approaches. However, it is imperative that we stress our demands for restitution."
The Auschwitz Memorial meets visitors to the Council of Europe as a symbol of the Council of Europe’s Holocaust Remembrance Day. To put the restoration of justice for victims of genocide in the Ottoman Empire on a par with the victims of the Holocaust we should establish nearby another memorial to victims of the Armenian genocide and that of other nations committed in 1915 by the Ottoman Empire.
Ms PASHAYEVA (Azerbaijan) – Preparing a report on Turkey must be a challenging task and I congratulate the rapporteur on her courage in having undertaken this task. The report, however, seems to suffer greatly from all the chronic deficiencies of our monitoring system.
The so-called monitoring system today is far from being co-operative and result-oriented. The system very much lacks objectivity. If we continue to impose certain conditions on certain member States, while some of these are not fulfilled by non-monitored member States, I am afraid the credibility of this system will be seriously undermined. The monitoring system therefore needs immediate review with the introduction of clear and objective criteria as well as specific guidelines for the reports.
I completely agree with the rapporteur that a process of major reform is taking place in Turkey against a complex background. Sadly, the rapporteur has found these major reforms insufficient to end Turkey’s post-monitoring dialogue and I disagree with this too.
With its economic and political achievements, in the context of the global crisis, the threat of terrorist attacks and regional instability, Turkey has become a regional power and not only a “benchmark” for Muslim countries but also an inspiration and success story to its neighbours and regions around.
Turkey displays a genuine political will to bring its standards further into line with those of the Council of Europe. The recent adoption of the fourth reform package is a clear example, and translation of that political will lead to concrete actions. Turkey has successfully cherished democracy, human rights and the rule of law in a commendable and praiseworthy way, despite the traumatic effects of decades-long PKK terrorism that had claimed more than 40 000 lives.
Today Turkey is working on a new constitution, not because the Council of Europe has asked for it but because it is the true desire of the Turkish people. The government has taken a bold initiative to end PKK terrorism and as European parliamentarians we should play our role by urging the terrorist organisation PKK to lay down its weapons and withdraw beyond Turkey’s borders immediately and unconditionally.
I conclude with my firm conviction that this will be the last time we discuss a Monitoring Committee report on Turkey.
Mr KAYATÜRK (Turkey) — I would like to convey my thanks to Ms Durrieu for her extensive report. However, as a parliamentarian from the eastern part of Turkey, I firmly believe that the progress recorded by Turkey in the last decade regarding the Kurdish issue should be accorded the importance it deserves. Let me take this opportunity to touch on the recent developments concerning the Kurdish issue in Turkey to deepen the analysis presented in the report.
In the early days of 2013, a new round of the process has been launched by the Turkish Government. Prime Minister Erdoğan has repeatedly emphasised the government’s commitment to pursue the process despite all its political risks until a long-lasting solution is implemented.
At present, we have entered into a very positive phase. Recently, a commission of so-called “wise people” was created. It is made up of 63 prominent journalists, academics, artists and civil society leaders who will play a central role in a public relations offensive to support the resolution of the Kurdish issue.
The process has turned into an extremely determined journey of hope in the whole of Turkey. Within the framework of this process, the laying down of weapons by the PKK and the withdrawal of its members from Turkey is expected.
I strongly stress that this is a very sensitive internal process which requires all parties involved, and especially the international community including the Council of Europe, to act with the utmost responsibility.
Mr MARIAS (Greece) — I would like to raise two issues as regards the report on the post-monitoring dialogue with Turkey. The first one concerns the international relations of Turkey and the second one Turkey’s respect of human rights.
The relaunching of Turkey’s European integration process is currently being blocked because of Turkey’s own actions. Turkey itself did not demonstrate sincerity in respect of the European cause and refused to abide by European norms and principles, as all countries under accession are required to.
Turkey continues to occupy illegally 37% of the territory of the Republic of Cyprus, a European Union member State, and has an occupying army of 40 000 soldiers on the island in breach of international law. Turkey unilaterally froze its contacts with the European Union, during the Cypriot presidency of the Council of the European Union, in the second half of last year.
Moreover, Turkey declares that it does not recognise Cyprus as an independent and sovereign country, and to this day strongly refuses to open its ports and airports to Cypriot planes and vessels, contrary to the obligations Turkey undertook in order to begin its European Union accession process.
Finally, Turkey has not withdrawn its declaration of casus belli towards Greece should the latter attempt to extend the Hellenic territorial waters to 12 nautical miles pursuant to the 1982 United Nations Convention of the Law of the Sea.
As regards respect of human rights, Turkey must bring its legislation and administrative practices into line with the European Convention on Human Rights, promoting the rights of the Greek minority in Turkey and stepping up the dialogue with the religious communities, especially with the Ecumenical Patriarchate.
The Turkish authorities should fully comply with the Assembly’s Resolution 1625 (2008) on Imbros and Tenedos as regards the prospect of reopening a school for the remaining Greek minority on the Isle of Imbros.
The Assembly must invite Turkey to address other important issues such as the property rights of the Greek minority in Imbros and the preservation of the bicultural character of the islands of Imbros and Tenedos. Accordingly, expatriate minority members of the Greek minority who wish to return to these islands should be encouraged and supported by the Turkish authorities.
Moreover, the Turkish Government must address effectively the remaining shortfalls with regard to the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople such as the reopening of the Halki Seminary, the lack of legal personality and the non-recognition of its title and character, in accordance with the relevant recommendations of the Venice Commission.
Finally, the Turkish Government must also address in a positive spirit the issue of the seized non-Muslim Foundations.
Ms KYRIAKIDES (Cyprus) – The process of major reforms and constitutional improvements in Turkey is to be welcomed. This report acknowledges that, since 2004, when the monitoring procedure for Turkey was closed, there have been many important developments in this context – reforms concerning the functioning of democratic institutions in this country, the rule of law and greater respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms.
Much, of course, remains to be done. This process is ongoing and, as Ms Durrieu rightly states, changes only partially respond to the remaining problematic areas highlighted by this Assembly. These pertain to the legislature, the judiciary, freedom of expression, pre-trial detentions, rights of religious and other minorities, the Kurdish question and so on. As stated in the draft resolution, Turkey’s stability is deemed vital for the whole of the eastern Mediterranean. I would add, however, that peace and stability in the Mediterranean area also depend on Turkish external policies. Let us not forget that Turkey has threatened, and still does, in the most provocative way the Republic of Cyprus regarding our country’s internationally recognised sovereign rights to explore and exploit its natural resources in its exclusive economic zone. These are rights which stem from the United Nations Convention of the Law on the Sea of 1982, to which Cyprus is a party, unlike Turkey which has not yet signed it. Such provocations seriously harm peace and stability in the wider region, never mind the complications caused in the search for a just and viable solution to the Cyprus problem.
On Turkey’s accession negotiations with the European Union, I agree with the rapporteur that this is an important cause which the Republic of Cyprus supports, as it believes that if we encourage Turkey’s accession to the European Union, Turkey would have to abide by certain fundamental principles of international law and the acquis communautaire. That is why Cyprus has not raised any obstacles against Turkey obtaining accession status, despite the continuing occupation by Turkey of part of Cyprus and the massive violations of human rights of all Cypriots, as recorded in pertinent United Nations Security Council resolutions, Council of Europe resolutions and recommendations and in decisions of the European Court of Human Rights. Turkey’s response so far, however, is in utter defiance of the functioning of European Union institutions themselves, inter alia by boycotting, only a few months ago, the rotating European Union presidency, a fundamental and institutionalised form of co-operation among European Union member States. Turkey’s non-participation in any event during the Cyprus presidency was, to say the least, disappointing. Not only did Turkey cast doubts on its own sincerity about joining the European Union but it managed to cast a shadow on its very recognition of the Union as a whole. Turkey’s continuous infringement of the Ankara Protocol is equally alarming.
Last but not least, since this report underlines the importance of the religious rights of minorities in Turkey, I would like to refer to the religious rights of the Greek Cypriot and Maronite enclaves in the occupied part of Cyprus. According to the European Court of Human Rights decision on the 1998 Loizidou v. Turkey case, the regime in that area is a subordinate local administration of Turkey. The violation of the enclaved people’s rights has been dealt with in the European Court of Human Rights decision on the 2001 Cyprus v. Turkey case, as well as in Parliamentary Assembly Resolution 1333 (2003) and, more recently, in Recommendation 1957 (2011). Turkey is still to act on the said decisions of this Assembly.
As Cypriots, we would be the first to welcome real democratic progress in Turkey and full respect for human rights, both in Turkey itself and elsewhere. I therefore believe that until Turkey really proves that respecting the above-mentioned principles is a reality, the post-monitoring dialogue by this Assembly should continue.
Mr LOUKAIDES (Cyprus) — In respect of the draft resolution on the post-monitoring dialogue with Turkey, one can point to some encouraging developments concerning the ongoing democratisation process in the country. Equally, however, we cannot but underline the fact that a lot of important reforms remain to be made.
With respect to the military establishment’s role in the country’s political life, we should recognise that there have been positive developments. However, although its role and influence have significantly diminished, much is still pending in the field of democracy and the rule of law. The ruling AKP party has tightened its authoritarian practices, whereas over recent years there has been a rise in the further promotion of strong religious elements in the conduct of public affairs. This has resulted in increased conservatism in Turkish society with negative consequences for democracy and respect for human rights.
The renewed efforts to solve the Kurdish issue and the engagement in proximity talks between the Turkish State and the Kurdish leader, Abdullah Öcalan, constitute a positive development. Much more should be done, however, to fully restore the political and cultural rights of the Kurdish people. In this respect, the adoption of a new and more democratic constitution should certainly encompass clauses aimed at the solution of the Kurdish issue.
Unfortunately, Turkey’s negative stance regarding the solution of the Cyprus problem, on the basis of a bi-communal, bi-zonal federation, has not changed. According to a recent document by the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Turkey is pushing for a “velvet division” of the Republic of Cyprus. The pursued policy of a “two State solution” of the Cyprus problem has been repeatedly expressed and promoted over the years by high-ranking Turkish officials. However, such a solution, which maintains the occupation regime and the current unacceptable status quo, runs contrary to all pertinent United Nations Resolutions and decisions of the Parliamentary Assembly and the European Council, which calls for a bi-zonal, bi-communal federation. Turkey must therefore, not only fully respect international law and the relevant United Nations Security Council Resolutions, but must abandon negative approaches regarding the geopolitical significance of Cyprus, which amount to maintaining the military occupation of 37% of the island’s territory.
Equally, Turkey must abandon policies that aim to subjugate the occupied territories of Cyprus through economic protocols, which led to harsh austerity measures, increased Turkish capital influence, and the influx of Turkish settlers. Through the implementation of these policies, Turkey has effectively integrated politically as well as economically and socially the northern occupied part of the island. The mass demonstrations by our Turkish Cypriot compatriots in early 2011 and their clear call for the protection of their community’s identity are solid proof of the imminent danger they face of losing their Cypriot political and cultural identity.