AS (2015) CR 04
2015 ORDINARY SESSION
Tuesday 27 January 2015 at 3.30 p.m.
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 BAĞIŞ (Turkey) – For centuries, Turkey has been a safe haven for victims and the destitute, and today it remains so. There are 1.6 million Syrians in Turkey and we have spent $5.5 billion to set up 230 000 tents and containers, while the international community’s contribution has been only $250 million. Turkey has so far assumed an unfair share of the humanitarian burden of the Syria conflict and should not be left alone to handle this humanitarian crisis.
Turkey also continuously delivered humanitarian assistance to the Kobani region through the zero point operation facilitated by the Turkish Red Crescent. To date, Turkey has sent 721 trucks of humanitarian equipment: the total value of the official humanitarian assistance channelled to the region has reached $11 million.
Likewise, in response to aid appeals made by the Iraqi authorities as a result of Da’esh atrocities, Turkish agencies have delivered humanitarian assistance to populations in need: 725 trucks containing medical equipment, food and tents have been sent into northern Iraq to be distributed to all Iraqi IDPs without any discrimination. Furthermore, humanitarian aid was extended to Iraqis who have fled into Turkey due to the Da’esh advance, and three IDP shelters were built with a total capacity of 37 500.
Terrorism cannot be in any way justified and poses a great threat to international peace and security. With this understanding, Turkey actively contributes to regional and international endeavours. Any attempt to affiliate terrorism with any religion or ethnic group is utterly wrong and we do not use the terms “Jihadist”, “Islamist”, “Sunni”, though some may think them convenient, for terrorist groups exploiting religion.
On foreign terrorist fighters, priority should be given to stopping them travelling to conflict zones at their country of departure. Our authorities are taking necessary measures to prevent third-country citizens from joining radical groups. More than 7 000 people have been included in the no-entry list and more than 1050 foreigners were deported between 2011 and 2015. We expect all source countries to take necessary steps to prevent individuals from travelling beyond their borders. The case of Hayat Boumeddiene demonstrates the importance of timely and efficient intelligence sharing; had our authorities been previously informed about her, we could have prevented her entrance and deported her.
Mr DİŞLİ (Turkey) – I would like to touch upon a serious problem, that of racism and xenophobia, as I believe the right time has come for us to think about what measures will need to be taken in order to tackle these menaces that are threatening the core values on which Europe has been built.
At times, it is argued that the rising trends in racist and xenophobic sentiments in Europe are a result of economic crises and unemployment, yet surely they have ideological backgrounds. The rise of the far-right movement Pegida is a concrete example of a new type of racism. As the logic of Pegida argues that Germany belongs exclusively to Christians, this purely neo-Nazi racist approach not only poses a threat to Muslims, but represents a huge risk for Germany and Europe. That shows that xenophobia and neo-Nazism have turned into anti-Islamism in many cases.
Migrants, especially Muslims, have been the main target of violent racist attacks and hate crimes in Europe, yet hate crimes are under-reported and insufficiently classified and investigated. Recent developments in the Middle East, as well as the terrorist attacks in Paris, have the potential to strengthen anti-immigrant, racist and Islamophobic trends in Europe. Of particular concern are the extremist parties that represent a serious challenge in many European democracies. We all have to take a firm stance against hate speech, intolerance to differences and attempts to present religious and cultural differences as ground for enmity.
Likewise, in such a period when prominent world leaders meticulously avoided associating the terror acts in Paris with Islam, linking these attacks with Islam by using the term “Islamic terrorism”,
which is an Islamophobic attitude, is unacceptable. I stress that terrorism has no religion or nationality and no excuse can be given for it.
European societies are pluralistic communities in which people from different nationalities and with different religions are used to living together, thus governments should again concentrate on policies to represent this pluralist social structure. We should be aware of the fact that prohibitions, limitations and pressures on values, beliefs, religions and cultures have never served any purpose other than to destroy peace in society.
Mr TÜRKEŞ (Turkey) – I take this opportunity to raise my concerns about the lack of dialogue – the main barrier to peace – that prevails in world politics. A hundred years has passed since the start of the First World War which swept the world into great sufferings, leaving nearly 37 million dead or wounded and not solving any problems. Despite the fact that the end of the war raised hopes for a just and durable peace, it was followed by the Second World War and many other conflicts in the 20th century, including the ones in Europe.
Since the end of the First World War, violence has continued to dominate world politics and now we face new challenges. The persistence of violence demonstrates that, unfortunately, the bitter lessons of the past have been completely forgotten or not given enough importance. In order to solve all the problems of the past, the tool we have to use is dialogue: a constructive approach and goodwill in trying to understand each other will enable us to create a peaceful environment.
I observe with dismay that some parliamentarians are exploiting this august platform with unfounded allegations concerning the historical controversies that took place during the course of the last century, where there certainly is no scholarly consensus. Parliaments should not try to legislate on historical events and should avoid giving verdicts as courts and tribunals. If they do so, they will not serve the idea of justice, only ethnic lobbies and the politicisation of history.
While commemorating the lives lost in the conflicts of the last century, we should again be alarmed by the new threats to world peace and avoid biased attitudes towards each other.
Mr DENEMEÇ (Turkey) – I need to stress that, regrettably, during recent part-sessions, we have heard accusatorial and biased speeches by our Armenian colleagues about controversial historical events – this goes against the spirit of the Parliamentary Assembly. I preferred not to respond to those speeches so as not to hinder the proceedings of the Assembly by sparking a debate on an issue that should be a matter for historians. However, unabated verbal attacks by certain colleagues have prompted me to clarify some points concerning the sufferings of Armenians and Turks during the First World War.
The final years of the Ottoman Empire represent a tragic period for the peoples that made up the empire. Millions of people, regardless of their ethnic origin, suffered immensely. However, these sufferings have been presented by some Armenians in a selective way and without any legal and historical consensus. In the face of this one-sided presentation of common sufferings, Turkey adopted an approach open to dialogue and called for the establishment of a joint historical commission to study the controversy over the historical events of 1915. As politicians, we should try to find solutions to problems, not make them more complicated. Existing problems should not be politicised and emotionally abused; those who do this may benefit in the short term, but they lose in the long term.
Moreover, the President of the Republic of Turkey, Mr Erdoğan, delivered a historic message in April last year during his premiership. In his message, he expressed respect and compassion for those who lost their lives; he emphasised that millions of people from distinct ethnic and religious groups had lost their lives, making it a collective pain. He also stated that the sufferings of the First World War should not obstruct the establishment of amicable relations between Turks and Armenians. I reiterate those calls for sympathy and dialogue and stress that we should avoid offensive discourses and adopt a more empathetic approach in this Chamber so that we can have more fruitful meetings.
Ms PASHAYEVA (Azerbaijan) – First of all, we, as Azerbaijanis and Muslims, severely condemn the terror incident which happened in France a few days ago, and express our condolences to our French colleagues. However, we should also strongly protest against those who want to connect this incident with Islam. Islam is a religion that calls for peace, not terrorism. Parallel to supporting freedom of speech, we should also protest against the humiliation and insulting of religious beliefs, regardless of religious affiliation.
During the terrorist attacks, many European leaders demonstrated solidarity with the French people and took part in the march against terrorism held in Paris. We also supported it. Such a stance against terrorism and killing people should be demonstrated regardless of where, by whom and against whom it has been committed.
Exactly a month later, we shall commemorate the 23rd anniversary of the Khojaly massacre committed by Armenia. The perpetrators of this crime are still walking freely in Armenia and have not been sent before a judge. Resolution 1416 of our Assembly, demanding the withdrawal of Armenian forces from the occupied territories of Azerbaijan, including Khojaly, has been ignored by Armenian officials for the last 10 years. However, no serious steps have been taken by the Assembly as a protest against such behaviour.
As a result of the so far unimplemented Resolution 1416, although it was adopted more than 10 years ago, three young Azerbaijani men, trying to prevent the next provocation of the Armenian armed forces, lost their lives while we were having discussions here on this issue. If this Resolution had already been implemented, and if the war had already ended, so many of our people, including those three young men, would not have lost their lives.
Ms NAGHDALYAN (Armenia) – April 24 of this year marks the centennial of the Armenian genocide perpetrated in the Ottoman Empire. These hundred years were not sufficient for Turkey to face its own history and to officially recognise and adequately assess reality, even considering the fact that the organisers of the genocide had first been brought to justice by the Turkish military court back in 1919. All those who consider that the Armenian genocide concerns only Armenians are sadly mistaken. The Armenian people’s striving for the condemnation and recognition of the worst of the crimes against humanity is not about resolving a personal issue.
The year 2015 is a turning point, not only for the Armenian people, but also for the whole world. On the one hand, there are those who emphasise the truth and human values – and in particular the right to life, as set forth in the European Convention on Human Rights – and who spare no efforts to prevent other possible crimes against humanity. On the other hand, there are those who know and realise both the truth and the irreversibility of historical events, but who are guided by daily politics and political amenities, and who prefer to avoid threatening modern relations with Turkey.
Do we have the right to anticipate that 100 years can bring changes in Turkey in respect of accepting its own history? Yes and no. Yes, because modern Turkey is a big, powerful State whose citizens, especially after the murder of Hrant Dink, are starting to ask themselves questions and search for answers in the non-official history and ideology and because the number of people thinking in the same way as the Nobel prize-winning Turkish writer Orhan Pamuk is increasing. No, because the leaders of Turkey continue to deny that the genocide ever took place; they are still guided by the fear that accepting its crime would be a sign of weakness.
In August 2014, the President of Armenia, Serzh Sargsyan, invited President Erdoğan to visit Yerevan on 24 April 2015 to pay tribute to the victims of the genocide. For over six months, Turkish diplomats searched for a response and found it by way of yet another historical falsification, through shifting the dates of the Battle of Gallipoli. Problems with the calendar are nothing compared with yet another Turkish diplomatic trick aimed at preventing the leaders of other States from visiting Yerevan on 24 April. As President Sargsyan mentioned in his response to Mr Erdoğan, “Before undertaking the remembrance event, Turkey has a much more important obligation towards its own people; that is the recognition and condemnation of the Armenian genocide.”
Mr HUSEYNOV (Azerbaijan) – Above all, I reject the speeches of my Armenian colleagues, which are full of deception. Unfortunately, this has turned out to be their way of thinking and philosophy of life. All this is being implemented to hide the genuine facts of the real situation. However, our Armenian colleagues forget that through such fraudulent manoeuvres, they expose their true colours.
The most basic way of preventing any undesirable incident is to react in a timely fashion. If the necessary course of action is not taken at the given moment, it generates implications that complicate future progress. In some cases, the precedent arising from such a delay or indifference causes a more terrible chain reaction, leading to new and similar developments taking place. We do not need to look very far; we can easily find examples.
If the world community had voiced its resolute opposition when separatism broke out in Nagorno-Karabakh and was followed by the Armenian occupation of Azerbaijani territories in the early 1990s, and if the Council of Europe had put forward more severe conditions when accepting that occupying country into its membership, demanding the speediest solution of the conflict in the early 2000s, it is more than likely that, today, we would be speaking, not about the ongoing conflict, but about the past conflict, which would now be a closed page of history.
The delayed counter-reaction to the aforementioned blatant example of separatism and occupation, as well as the failure to apply the severest reactions against the aggression, has given birth to the gravest of consequences. One negative experience has generated new conflict hotbeds, cases of separatism and acts of aggression, and no one knows where it will all end. Therefore, we should learn lessons from that negative experience.
The recent disturbing developments that took place on the Azerbaijani-Armenian border require urgent steps to be taken right now. The Armenian armed forces have begun to excessively violate the cease-fire regime. The Council of Europe should urgently react to this issue by putting great pressure on Armenia which, on joining the Organisation, undertook the commitment not to intensify the conflict and enlarge its occupation, but to settle the issue through diplomatic channels. Therefore, Armenia, aided by external forces, occupies 20% of Azerbaijani territories and insists on continuing its aggressive policy. Today, the sound of Armenian shootings on the Armenian-Azerbaijani border should be heard in Strasbourg, and appropriate measures taken. Let us take at least this measure on time. Tomorrow will be too late!