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Visit of HB Patriarch Mesrob II to Europe in support of Turkish Admission into the European Union

Press Release - For immediate release - 3 December 2002

The UK-based Campaign for Recognition of the Armenian Genocide (CRAG) has been following with concerned interest the current visit of His Beatitude Mesorb II, Patriarch of Istanbul and All Turkey, to Europe. As we understand it, his visit carries with it the aim of convincing the European Union to set a date at its Summit in Copenhagen in December 2002 for the start of political negotiations that would lead up to the eventual admission of Turkey into the European Union.

We believe that Turkey ought to be considered a viable partner for the European Union only when it has managed to meet and satisfy the 'Copenhagen Criteria' in terms of its adherence to the global values of democracy as much as its respect for human rights and minority rights within Turkey.

We also encourage the EU to stress upon Turkey the need to recognise at long last the Armenian Genocide that was perpetrated by its ancestor Ottoman regime during World War One against Armenians and other minorities. The European Parliament, as well as many European and non-European governments, parliaments and local authorities worldwide, have already recognised this genocide. It therefore becomes incumbent upon Turkey to re-visit its stance and correct its denial of this historical wrong prior to any talks on admission into the EU.

We remain hopeful that the recent accession to power of a party in Turkey that adheres to Islamic principles and beliefs would encourage the new Turkish political establishment to re-examine its position on the Armenian Genocide as much as be faithful to those revered monotheistic values within Islam that underline equal respect, dignity and protection for all.

Whilst we appreciate fully the heavy responsibilities His Beatitude Mesrob II carries as leader of the Armenian Church and Community within the See of Constantinople in Turkey, and whilst we also respect fully his defence as a Turkish citizen of his country's global interests, we remain conscious of the fact that his overall responsibilities are primarily ecclesial and ecumenical in nature and do not necessarily always represent the viewpoint of the whole Armenian people world-wide.

We join our sister organisations across Europe, particularly those working closely with the European Union institutions in Brussels, let alone the many Armenians who are also European citizens, in encouraging the EU to subscribe to those critical and lofty values that underscore let alone strengthen the freedoms that are fundamental by law and practice on an equal basis for the whole of Europe.

Dr Rostom Stepanian, MD FRCP - Chair - CRAG

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