A draft position paper of this political group was redacted. The members of parliament should amend a voluminous work piece.

MEP Bart STAES thought there was not enough attention to the Kurdish question, so he formulated many amendments on the text concerning the identities, fundamen-tal values and borders in the EU and on the Copenhagen criteria for human rights and the democratisation process. Most amendments of Bart STAES were added to the draft position paper, some were processed in the text.
Herewith we mention the two themes above which are approved by the group. The amendments of MEP Bart STAES are printed in heavy italic type.

Karel Van Reeth, collaborator of MEP Bart STAES

Questioning the EU project through Turkey’s accession process

EU identities, fundamental values and borders                                                                                                                  

1.  Borders, identity, cultures and shared values are increasingly becoming the central questions in the European debate. These questions are long-standing and are independent of Turkey’s accession process. At the same time, these issues acquire a special dimension when they arise in the context of the debate on Turkey’s accession. The question of Europe’s borders often comes up in relation to Turkey. Member States have responded to it on various occasions. It is a political issue, which each generation will have to resolve in its own fashion.

2.  The Greens/EFA group is working towards a peaceful EU based on solidarity that systematically promotes, protects and respects universal human rights. In the longstanding debate on the EU’s values, we are fighting for the right to freedom of opinion, conscience and religion and we will not allow new religious frontiers to be drawn across EU. This is a fight for equality and against all forms of discrimination based on race, colour, gender, sexual orientation, language, religion or social origin. It is a fight for a secular and democratic EU that includes Turkey.

3. The Greens/EFA group calls for a ratification of the Council of Europe’s Framework Convention for the protection of Minorities by Turkey as we do for all EU Member States. In addition we call for the development and the promotion by Turkey and the EU of a strategic plan for mother tongue education in Turkey.

4. The Greens/EFA group considers that a Turkey based on a democratic constitution is, particularly in terms of what Turkish history and civilisation can bring to the EU, a factor of enrichment for the future of the EU project.

Copenhagen criteria: human rights and democratisation process

1. Over the past decade, Turkey has gone through a far-reaching process of democratisation accompanied by major constitutional reforms. Taboo subjects, such as the rights of the Kurds, are now being debated. Nevertheless, Turkey is still far from guaranteeing respect for international human rights standards and thus falls short of fulfilling the conditions for EU accession.

2. The Greens/EFA group sees Turkey’s fulfilment of the Copenhagen Criteria as key to its own modernisation and for its EU accession. We welcome Turkey’s progress with regard to reforms but still have major concerns regarding the human rights situation. Major priorities for the Greens/EFA group in this respect are: freedom of expression and media, impartiality of justice, human rights in the fight against terrorism, minority rights, migrants, asylum seekers and refugees’ rights, women’s rights and LGTB rights and the fight against discrimination, notably on the grounds of sexual orientation or gender identity.

3. The Greens/EFA group places specific emphasis on freedom of expression and especially freedom of the press as these rights are the cornerstone of a modern democracy. The problem is alarming – not only journalists, but also politicians, writers, lawyers, human right defenders, pacific activists and trade unionists can be involved in litigation that mostly end up with decisions which violate human rights. The problem is particularly visible in respect of articles or research on issues like the Kurdish question or the Ergenekon network.

4. The Greens/EFA group is deeply concerned by a number of laws such as Articles 301- 318- 220/6 in combination with 314/2 of the penal code, Art 7/2 of theanti-terror law 5816of25/07/1951 that continue to limit freedom of expression; we urge the government to finalise the review of the legal framework on freedom of expression and to bring it, without delay, in line with the ECHR and the ECHR case law; we regret the repeatedly disproportionate closure of websites and ask the government to prepare amendments to the internet law (No. 5651) to ensure that it stops limiting freedom of expression and restricting the right of citizens to access information.

5. The Greens/EFA group supports the government’s democratic opening of the Kurdish question and calls on the government and all political forces to put it into practice by seeking a broad political consensus in favour of dialogue and a peaceful resolution of the conflict, that guarantees the civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights of all citizens.

6. The Greens/EFA group is convinced that the Kurdish issue is a major issue to be tackled in the framework of the new Constitution to achieve peace, reconciliation and rule of law. We believe a peaceful can only happen through democratic participation of all political parties and civil society organizations.

7. The Greens/EFA group supports the creation of a truth and reconciliation committee to recommend measures to bring an end to the conflict in Turkey.

8. The Greens/EFA group urges the EU to support Turkey to move forward to decentralisation and to encourage public participation in local government and foster a democratic governance model, notably by making full use of the relevant IPA funds and by opening the negotiation chapter 22 on regional policy.

9. The Greens/EFA group supports the movements for democratic transition within Turkey that are pacifically fighting for human rights enforcement and a democratic and secular state. That is why we regard the accession process as a crucial tool to support the democratic and peaceful actors of the democratisation process and to play a major role in establishing stability both in Turkey and within the region as a whole.

10. The Greens/EFA group calls for a new civil constitution that must, among others, enshrine a definition of citizenship that is neither ethnic nor denominational, ensure the most diversified and fruitful political life possible by reducing the 10 percent threshold for parliamentarian representation and organize decentralization. 

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PS: The complete note can be demanded at Karel Van Reeth ([email protected])

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