The Third International Conference on the EU, Turkey and the Kurds brings together human rights defenders, writers, academics, lawyers and experts on the Kurdish Question to exchange ideas and generate dialogue on the Kurdish issue and the Turkey-EU accession process. The conference was held at the European Parliament in Brussels and supported by members of the European Parliament.

A fundamental aim of the Conference Resolution is to help to guarantee respect for human and minority rights and to promote a peaceful, democratic and long-term solution to the Kurdish situation as well as the accession of Turkey as a member of the EU. To this end, the Conference hereby resolves to monitor and conduct regular audits of Turkey’s compliance with its regional human rights obligations and other EU related accession criteria. The Conference further resolves to periodically make recommendations of measures that could advance the protection of the human rights of the Kurds and to act as a point of contact and exchange of information with the Turkish and European Governments, EU institutions and other governmental and non-governmental organisations involved in the Turkish EU accession process and the peaceful resolution of the Kurdish issue in Turkey.

FINAL RESOLUTIONS

Pursuant to the presentation of Conference papers and interventions made by delegates, this Conference unanimously resolves to adopt the following declarations and calls for action to be undertaken by relevant parties to the Kurdish conflict in Turkey.

The Conference issues the following declarations:

1) Recalling the resolutions from the First and Second International Conferences on Turkey, EU & The Kurds, the Third International Conference continues to give its qualified support to Turkey’s EU accession process;

2) The Third International Conference calls upon European Governments to publicly express support for the EU accession process, including support of all EU requirements concerning democratic and legal reform within Turkey;

3) The Conference hereby continues to acknowledge the Turkish Government’s progress on reform during 2002-4, but echoes the European Parliament Resolution of 27 September 2006 expressing regret at the ‘slowing down of the reform process’ which can be seen in the ‘persistent shortcomings or insufficient progress in particular in the areas of freedom of expression, religious and minority rights, civil-military relations, law enforcement on the ground, women’s rights, trade union rights, cultural rights and the swift and correct enforcement of court rulings by State services’ and joins with them in urging Turkey to ‘reinvigorate the reform process’;

4) The Conference notes with alarm the failure of certain State institutions to adhere to its obligations under the European Convention on Human Rights and humanitarian law in accordance with the spirit and terms of its own recent reform packages and commitments given under the accession process; in particular, it is dismayed that institutions of the State have continued its military activities;

5) The Conference welcomes the declaration of a ceasefire by the PKK on 1 October 2006 and hereby calls upon all relevant parties involved in the armed conflict in Turkey to forthwith stop all hostile military operations in the region and to henceforth pursue non-violent resolutions to the conflict;

6) In particular, the Conference calls upon all governments, to urge Turkey and other Member States of the EU to help foster a climate of peace so that a democratic platform for dialogue can be established between Turks, Kurds, and other constituent peoples and minorities who are resident in Turkey;

Human Rights and Accession

7) The Conference supports the undertakings by the EU that reform in the area of fundamental rights, democracy and the rule of law must be strengthened in the course of accession negotiations and welcomes the commitment by the EU Commission to continue to monitor the reform process; this should include a complete overhaul of the justice system including how judges are recruited and chosen;

8) The Conference reiterates the view expressed in the First and Second Conferences that Turkey has not yet fulfilled the political elements of the Copenhagen Criteria, and reiterates that its support for the accession process is dependent upon the institutions of the EU robustly enforcing accession standards. It further underlines that there can be no further compromises on membership criteria akin to the EU decision to allow Turkey access to the negotiating table for ‘sufficiently’ fulfilling the Copenhagen Criteria;

9) The Conference specifically calls upon both the Turkish Government and the EU to ensure that Turkey fully complies with its human rights obligations in relation to torture and ill treatment, the plight of internally displaced people, protection of women and children, minority rights, and freedoms of expression, association, language and religion;

10) The Conference also calls upon Turkey to ratify the European Framework Convention on the Protection of Minorities as well as other UN Instruments concerning minorities and to respect the existing cultural and minority rights of all groups;

11) In reference to the above resolution, the Conference also calls on the EU to apply pressure on the Government of Turkey as a potential member of the EU to ratify said Framework;

12) Recalling Articles 10, and 14, and Article 2 of the first Protocol of the European Convention on Human Rights and Article 8 of the European Charter for Regional or Minority languages, and the Council of Europe’s Parliamentary Assembly’s resolution 1519 of October 2006 on the cultural situation of the Kurds, the Conference calls upon the State of Turkey and the European Union to develop and promote a strategic plan for mother tongue education;

13) With specific reference to the reports of the European Parliament in September 2006, the European Commission of November 2005, the UN Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women’s report in July 2006 and the concerns expressed in the 2005 CEDAW response to Turkish Report to the Committee, the conference calls on EU to ensure that Turkey addresses the Status of all of its women and girls, and particularly its Kurdish women and girls in the context of international standards;

14) This Conference expresses regret the Turkish government’s initiation of work on the ill-planned Ilisu Dam in August 2006 which threatens mass displacement and loss of livelihood of the area’s inhabitants, the majority of whom are Kurds; endangers the historically important city of Hasankeyf, in an apparent attempt to further disassociate Kurds from their rich heritage and culture; and will, according to several environmental assessment reports, jeopardize access to water for Turkey’s neighbours and cause irreversible environmental harm;

15) In reference to the above, the Conference calls upon the Turkish government to reassess its position vis-à-vis this project, as well as the bodies of the EU monitoring the impact of internal displacement and what the potential effects of this project are on the already overpopulated urban centres of the Kurdish regions;

The Centrality of the Kurdish Question

16) The Conference asserts that the resolution of the Kurdish conflict is essential 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;

17) This Conference therefore asserts that the Kurdish people and their representatives should be given a genuine participatory role in the accession process and in any debate over Turkey’s democratic constitutional future;

18) However, the Conference further asserts that more must and can be done on both sides and calls for the following confidence building measures to be adopted;

Confidence Building Measures

19) In particular, the Conference calls upon all political parties in Turkey to help foster the conditions within Turkey for a democratic platform for dialogue;

20) Based on the present ceasefire holding, the Conference calls upon the European Commission and Council to endeavour to actively develop a democratic platform whereby the constituent elements of Turkey, including the Kurdish people and their representatives, can freely enter into dialogue and debate with the Government over possible reform to the Constitution;

21) In this respect the Conference recalls the following declaration in the European Commission’s 1998 report that:

‘A civil and non-military solution must be found to the situation in the Southeast 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’;

22) The Conference further recalls that the EU Parliamentary Committee on Foreign Affairs in December 2004 urged:

‘all parties involved to put an immediate end to the hostilities in the Southeast of the country” and invited “the Turkish Government to take more active steps to bring reconciliation with those Kurdish forces who have chosen to abandon the use of arms.’
23) The Conference recognises the potential contribution to peace presented by the three newly appointed co-ordinators representing Iraq, Turkey and US, and calls on them to work together to find ways forward with the issue of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). The EUTCC calls upon these representatives and all other relevant regional and national stakeholders and policy-makers to pursue a democratic solution through dialogue;

24) The Conference also 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;

25) In particular, the Conference calls upon the Turkish Government to ensure that all legally constituted Kurdish democratic parties are allowed to engage in peaceful political activity without interference or constant threat of closure, in accordance with Articles 10 and 11 of the European Convention of Human Rights;

26) The Conference further calls upon the Turkish Government to fully comply with all judgments of the European Court of Human Rights particularly in relation to those that pertain to the Kurdish conflict. The conference notes the European Commissions  Reports’ particular citation of the ECHR case of Abdullah Öcalan v Turkey in this regard;

27) In this respect, the Conference calls upon the Turkish Government to begin a public debate about the constitutional recognition of the existence of the Kurdish people within Turkey;

28) The Conference also urges all member states of the European Union to individually assist —including earmarking funds— in the creation of a democratic platform for dialogue between Turkey and the Kurds and fully comply with their own freedom of expression obligations in respect of those Kurdish organisations and individuals who are concerned to promote the same;

29) The Conference endorses the recent recommendations of the Council of Europe’s representative regarding the creation of a Committee for Reconciliation;

30) The Conference also urges Governments of the EU not to criminalise peaceful dissent of Turkey echoed by Kurdish organisations situated in Europe and to review its recent proscription of certain Kurdish organisations, especially in the light of recent ceasefire declarations and public commitments to the search for a peaceful solution of the Kurdish question within the present territorial integrity of a democratically reformed Turkey;
31) Finally, the Conference mandates, its Directors, Advisors and Committees, to engage and campaign on both a political and civic level across Europe in support of Turkey’s accession bid to join the European Union on the basis of this resolution.

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