The Second International Conference of the EUTCC brought together MEPs, other politicians, human rights defenders, writers, academics, lawyers and experts on the Kurdish issue to exchange ideas and generate dialogue on the Turkey-EU accession process.  The two-day conference was held at the European Parliament and supported by members of the Council of Europe. 
 
The EUTCC was established in November 2004 as the outcome of the first international conference on ‘The EU, Turkey and the Kurds’ held in the European Parliament in Brussels 22-23 November 2004. The aim of the EUTCC is to promote the accession of Turkey as a member of the EU, and to help to guarantee respect for human and minority rights and a peaceful, democratic and long-term solution to the Kurdish situation.  To this end, the EUTCC will 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.  It will also make recommendations of measures that could advance and protect human rights; act as a point of contact and exchange information with the institutions of the EU and other governmental and non-governmental organisations; and raise public awareness of issues affecting the EUTCC’s work or mandate. 
 
The Second Conference of the EUTCC was called to evaluate developments in respect of the EU-Turkey accession process since the decision of the European Council to enter into accession negotiation on 17 December 2004. The Conference noted with alarm the escalating military conflict in the Southeast region of Turkey and the failure of certain State institutions to adhere to its obligations under the European Convention on Human Rights in accordance with the spirit and terms of its own recent reform packages and commitments given under the Accession process. The indictment of Orhan Pamuk is but one disturbing example. However, the Conference supported the important recent declaration of 12 August 2005 made by the Prime Minister of Turkey concerning the need for further democratic reform. It also welcomes the positive response of the Kurds to this declaration. The Conference also expressed its concern over the tenor of recent debates concerning Turkey’s proposed admission to the EU articulated during the recent referendums. The Conference reiterated its support for the creation of a multi-cultural Europe and called upon leading European politicians to lead the debate in this regard. In particular, the Conference called upon the British Presidency of the EU to ensure that talks with Turkey are opened as planned on 3 October 2005 and to urge Turkey and other Member States 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.
 
FINAL RESOLUTION
 
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-Turkey Accession Process and initiate the following calls for action to be undertaken by the EUTCC and other relevant parties. 
 
The Conference issues the following declarations:
 
1)             This Conference reaffirms its conditional support for the EU Turkish Accession Process as declared in the Final Resolution of the First Conference in 2004;
2)             The Conference declares its further support for the opening of negotiations on 3 October 2005 and calls upon all member state governments to support this process;
3)             The Conference acknowledges the Turkish Government’s progress on reform, but expresses its concern over lack of implementation and other developments in the sphere of human rights since 17 December 2004.  The Conference urges the Government to renew the reform process with the commencement of accession negotiations, and to fully implement legislative reforms so far enacted;
 
Human Rights and Accession
 
4)             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 Commission expressed at this Conference to continue to monitor the reform process;
5)             The Conference maintains the view 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.  There should 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;
6)             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, the plight of internally displaced people, and protection of women and children.
7)             The Conference also calls upon Turkey to ratify the 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, including the rights of the Assyrian minority in Turkey.
 
The Centrality of the Kurdish Question
 
8)             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;
9)             This Conference therefore asserts that the Kurdish people and their representatives should be given a participatory role in the accession process and in any debate over Turkey’s democratic constitutional future;
10)         The Conference acknowledges as a positive step Prime Minister Erdogan’s   historic 12 August 2005 acknowledgement of the existence of the Kurdish question;
11)         The Conference welcomes as a positive step the month-long ceasefire called by Kongra-Gel in response to the Prime Minister’s recent initiative;
12)         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
 
13)         The Conference hereby calls upon all relevant parties involved in the armed conflict to forthwith stop all hostile military operations in the region and to henceforth pursue non-violent resolutions to the conflict;
14)         Further, the Conference calls upon all political parties in Turkey to help foster the conditions within Turkey for a democratic platform for dialogue;
15)         Pursuant to any extension of a ceasefire, the Conference calls upon the European Commission to endeavour to use its good offices 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; 
16)         In this respect the Conference recalls the following declaration in the EU- 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”.
17)         The Conference further recalls 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 chose to abandon the use of arms.”
18)         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;
19)         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.
20)         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 Commission’s 2004 Report’s particular citation of the ECHR case of Abdullah Ocalan v Turkey in this regard;
21)         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;
22)         The Conference also urges all member states of the European Union to individually assist in the creation of a democratic platform for dialogue between Turkey and the Kurds and fully comply with their own obligations under Articles 10 and 11 of the European Convention on Human Rights in respect of those Kurdish organisations and individuals resident in Europe who are concerned to promote the same.
23)         The Conference endorses the recommendations of the Council of Europe’s representative at this Conference regarding the creation of a Committee for Reconciliation;
24)         To assist this process, the Conference hereby agrees to set up its own embryonic Committee for National and Cultural Reconciliation under the auspices of the EUTCC consisting of leading European, Turkish and Kurdish politicians and representatives, NGOs, academics, intellectuals and human rights activists; and
25)         Finally, the Conference mandates the EUTCC, its directors 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 as outlined in this Resolution

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