1999 Regular Report from the Commission on Turkey's progress towards accession - Sitting of Tuesday, 14th November 2000
"We all have to come to terms with our own history and with the actions of our antecedent countries and states openly and honestly. I think that Turkey should take a fresh approach and that it and Armenia should commission their historians to analyse what happened in order to uncover, explain, take a clear stand on and clearly admit what happened." Swoboda MEP
"That is why the final problem to be resolved, the Armenian genocide, is of such importance. There is no one here, least of all myself, who would deny the fact that genocide was perpetrated against the Armenians during the last period of the Ottoman Empire. It is a clear fact, just as it is clear that Turkey, like any civilised society, should get used to the idea of facing up to its past, however terrible it may have been. This is one of the indispensable conditions in terms of ideology and civilisation needed for any country to join Europe." Cohn-Bendit MEP
"While there is a special relationship between Azerbaijan and Turkey, this is far from being the case for Armenia, a country against which Turkey is maintaining a commercial blockade, which is not acceptable in a country which has been accepted as a candidate for membership of the European Union. The dispute relating to acknowledgement of the Armenian genocide should also be waived in order to enable diplomatic and trade relations to be normalised." Isler Béguin MEP
"the fact remains that it would have been preferable to roundly condemn Turkey's present and past responsibility for problems caused by its intransigence and the resultant impasse on the Cyprus question where, it should be noted, there are clear signs of Turkey's intention to provoke a new heated crisis , its failure to abide by international conventions with its expansionist policy towards Greece, its concealment of the historical truth of the Armenian genocide and its disregard for the fundamental minority rights of the Kurds." Zacharakis ME
1999 Regular Report from the Commission on Turkey's progress towards accession - Sitting of Tuesday, 14th November 2000
President. The next item is the joint debate on the following two reports:
- A5-0297/2000 by Mr Morillon on behalf of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, Human Rights, Common Security and Defence Policy on the 1999 Regular Report from the Commission [COM(1999) 513 C5-0036/2000 2000/2014(COS)] on Turkey's progress towards accession;
[Editors note: The speeches dealing with the other debate on the EC-Turkey customs union has been omited]
Morillon (PPE-DE), rapporteur. (FR) Mr President, Mr President-in-Office of the Council, Commissioner, on 13 December 1999, the Helsinki European Council decided to grant Turkey the status of applicant country for accession to the European Union and to set up an accession partnership and a single financial framework in order to help Turkey' s application progress in accordance with the Copenhagen criteria.
This is the spirit in which the preparatory work for this report was carried out within the Committee on Foreign Affairs, Human Rights, Common Security and Defence Policy, and I should like, at this point, to thank all my fellow members for the contribution they made towards finalising this report, which, like the Commission, concludes that Turkey does not currently fulfil the Copenhagen criteria.
We must applaud the remarkable efforts Turkey has made, since the Helsinki decision, in devising a programme to develop its judicial framework in order to meet EU demands in a more satisfactory manner, with particular regard to human rights. One example is the report drawn up under the responsibility of Mr Demirok, Secretary of the Turkish Supreme Coordination Council for Human Rights, who has proposed a very wide-ranging raft of reforms to the Constitution. However, we must also note and acknowledge that an awareness of the importance of these reforms has caused considerable upheavals in the various political parties and in Turkish public opinion. Turkish citizens are realising that Turkey' s accession to the EU will require not only the 'painless' revision of their institutions but also a partial renunciation of sovereignty, to which they remain jealously attached, and a radical change in habits and outlook.
This is why Parliament has proposed the setting up of a Europe-Turkey Forum involving expert representatives of the Turkish community and appointed MEPs who would consider in depth the issues involved. Turkish accession is too important a matter for the future of the Union and of Turkey itself for a decision to be taken in smoke-filled back rooms or behind closed doors. Lengthy debates will be needed, both in the European Parliament and in the national parliaments, and that is why it is generally accepted that the road will be long and difficult.
The establishment of the Forum proposed by the European Parliament should allow us to overcome the initial obstacles encountered on this road. The European Parliament will have to tell its Turkish partners very clearly in the debates in that Forum that they need have no fear of any European desire to interfere in their internal affairs and that, on the contrary, it is proposing a contract, the precise details of which are being thrashed out, in the accession partnership, Commissioner, and, of course, in the Convention on the Charter of Fundamental Rights. It will be up to the Turks to accept it or refuse it.
As matters stand, it is also up to the European Parliament to tell the Turkish people that there are, today, at least three conditions for accession which Turkey must meet. Firstly, the need for identity must be respected: this need has been demonstrated particularly clearly in Europe by its citizens who wish to preserve their origins in the face of the ineluctable progress of globalisation. Aware that its diversity constitutes its wealth, Europe is determined to recognise this need for identity, and that is why it insists on the rights and also the obligations of minorities. It is in this spirit that it is prepared to help Turkey find a solution to the Kurdish problem in particular. The second problem, which will clearly have to be solved as soon as possible, concerns Cyprus. It is hard to understand today how it can remain divided by a wall, while in many other places, notably in Berlin and Sarajevo, and even more recently, between North and South Korea, such walls have crumbled over the past decade. Finally, since the fight against terrorism may now be deemed to be over, the influence of the Turkish army in the drawing up of political decisions should be gradually reduced.
I spoke of the three preconditions. In 1987, Parliament acknowledged the Armenian genocide. There are some people who would like to make the Turkish Government' s acknowledgement of this genocide a further condition for accession. This would run counter to the spirit and the letter of the process defined in Copenhagen for all candidate countries. I have suffered too much, alongside all the communities of Bosnia-Herzegovina, from the tragic consequences of the systematic resurrection of former atrocities to believe that a peaceful and stable future can be built except by ceasing to stir up the embers of past resentments.
Moscovici, Council (FR) Mr President, Commissioner, rapporteurs, ladies and gentlemen, you requested a debate on the European Union' s relations with Turkey, and you are aware of the importance the Council attaches to strengthening this relationship, which has gained new currency since this country' s candidature was recognised in Helsinki. The debate on the two reports presented by Mr Morillon and Mr Seppänen comes at precisely the right moment, as the Commission has just submitted two very important reports to us, firstly, its latest report on the progress made by Turkey along the road to accession and, secondly, its proposal for an accession partnership agreement with Turkey.
I shall begin, with your permission, with Mr Morillon' s extremely interesting report, which deals with the whole range of Euro-Turkish relations and, more specifically, with the progress report presented by the Commission in 1999, a few weeks prior to the Helsinki European Council. In recognising Turkey' s candidature, the European Council was following the recommendations made in the Commission' s report, whose analysis I believe we can all endorse.
Since then, both the European Union and Turkey have taken steps to put the Helsinki decisions into practice. I am, of course, thinking of the work undertaken within the Association Council with a view to bringing Turkish legislation into line with the acquis communautaire. More especially, however, as indeed Mr Morillon pointed out, I am thinking of the efforts made by Turkey to adapt to European standards and practices, particularly in the area of respect for human rights and consolidation of the rule of law. There is still, as we are aware, a lot of work to be done, but I feel that Turkey is starting to get used to the idea of reforms. It is therefore up to us Europeans to support this country on its very long and difficult road to accession. In this respect, I have no doubt but that the determination of each and every one of us to help Turkey progress along the path of democratisation will in the end prevail. Who could do this better than the European Parliament? I can therefore only be delighted at the proposal you have made to establish a Europe-Turkey Forum of human rights, thereby enabling Turkish citizens to size up the European prospects being opened to them, as well as Europe' s requirements.
Having said that, I am of course aware that Turkey' s candidature continues to raise questions. I have noted reservations on the part of many people, not just within the European Parliament, but also in all the Member States. I have taken note of your wish, as expressed most clearly by Mr Morillon, to be fully involved in the destiny of Euro-Turkish relations. I wish to make myself perfectly clear on this point. I do not think that anyone is trying to dodge the issue in this respect, quite the opposite. A good many discussions have already taken place, right here in the European Parliament as well as within the national parliaments of Member States. These discussions have occasionally been difficult but also, I am convinced, profitable. For its part, the French Presidency has no intention of shirking this legitimate concern for transparency, information and debate. I feel that Mr Morillon' s excellent report bears witness to your determination to bring Turkey' s pre-accession process to a successful conclusion, while exercising the utmost vigilance, quite legitimately, regarding the still considerable reforms which this country has yet to undertake.
We all agree that negotiations cannot in any case commence, let me stress that fact, until Turkey has met the Copenhagen political criteria in full. That is why I took careful note of the suggestions made by Mr Morillon regarding the preconditions for Turkey' s accession, which are certainly worth looking into. We are indeed all aware, yourselves, the Council Presidency and also, I believe, the Commission, whose latest report on the progress achieved in Turkey stressed once again the efforts this country still needs to made, the reforms still to be implemented in areas as crucial as respect for human rights, fundamental freedoms and minority rights, in particular, areas in which, as we can only regret, progress is still too slow and even inadequate. We must, however, also beware, as your report wisely emphasises, of setting new, extravagant conditions on Turkish candidature.
Let me stress the fact that Turkey must be treated on an equal footing with the other candidates. It is, in my opinion, a fundamental principle which was laid down Helsinki, and one which must govern the strengthening of Euro-Turkish relations. For, generally speaking, I think it would be regrettable if we were to give Turkey the impression that we are going back on the commitments we have given and on the principles we ourselves laid down in Helsinki. That is why, in the same spirit, the European Union must fulfil the commitments it has made with regard to this country, which I think it imperative to meet, particularly in terms of financial aid. The French Presidency has made this one of its objectives and I believe we are making progress. This House has, of course, on several occasions been invited to give an opinion on this matter, be it the MEDA Programme or the financial regulations proposed by the Commission to ensure Euro-Turkish rapprochement and to support the customs union, but there are also the European Investment Bank projects, which are essential in order to support Turkey' s economic development and to continue the reconstruction work undertaken following the earthquake.
I am pleased, in this respect, with the conclusions the report presented by Mr Seppänen on the EIB special action programme in support of the consolidation and intensification of the EC-Turkey customs union. When it last held the presidency, in 1995, France spared no effort in order to conclude this customs union agreement, which has since been in force since 1 January 1996. It must, however, be acknowledged that the funding allocated to Turkey since then has not always reflected the level of commitments which the Union made at that time. Progress has been made, however, particularly in the course of the last year, and I am pleased to see the increase announced by the Commission in appropriations allocated to this country. It is indeed important that the financial resources made available to Turkey should match up to the objectives that have been set. For its part, the Presidency would like to see this special action programme of EIB loans adopted by the Council very soon, probably as early as the forthcoming meeting of the Council of Ministers of Economic and Financial Affairs on 27 November.
I would add that we are all awaiting with keen interest the proposal announced by the Commission for a single regulation intended to coordinate all sources of Community aid to Turkey, in line with the plans made in Helsinki. It is only natural to standardise the arrangements for pre-accession aid to that country with those applicable to the other candidates according to the Phare Programme model. Parliament will, of course, have the opportunity to deliver an opinion on this matter, when the time comes. As you know, however, this pre-accession aid will be more particularly intended to help Turkey achieve the objectives laid down in the future accession partnership agreement. This is a key instrument in the pre-accession strategy for this country, and its importance was rightly highlighted in the recent Commission report. This is a proposal which is going to be examined in detail by the competent Council bodies, so you will understand that I cannot, in my capacity as President-in-Office of the Council, afford to pre-judge the situation. Without prejudice to the debate due to start this week, I think I may safely say, however, that the Commission has presented a very constructive and very demanding proposal, both for the European Union and for Turkey.
In this respect, I am delighted to see that their proposal is in line with many of the very welcome recommendations made by Mr Morillon. I am thinking of the intensified work to achieve democratisation, particularly in the area of the separation of powers or of declaring an end to the state of emergency in a number of Turkish provinces. The Presidency' s preference is for this draft to be adopted very quickly, indeed, if possible, as early as 20 November, the date of the forthcoming General Affairs Council, and, as I have already mentioned, for it to comply with the very specific decisions adopted in Helsinki. It will then be up to Turkey to take its inspiration from this in order to work out its own national programme to integrate the acquis and in order to implement the reforms, all the reforms necessary, with the support of the European Union.
Major prospects are opening up to us, and we know the task will be long and complex. Let us be demanding, let us be vigilant, but at the same time, let us remain consistent with the logic of our decision, making a bet on Turkey, having confidence in its determination for rapprochement with the European Union, and let us therefore assist Turkey to boost its ability to implement the necessary reforms which we quite legitimately expect of the country.
Verheugen, Commission. (DE) Mr President, Mr President-in-Office, ladies and gentlemen, I should like to start by extending my warmest thanks to Mr Morillon and Mr Seppänen for their highly constructive and politically intelligent reports and to say that this debate is taking place at a most auspicious time, a time when we are in a position to set relations between the European Union and Turkey on what may prove to be a decisive course.
As you know, not only has the Commission recently submitted the progress report for the year 2000; it has also proposed an accession partnership for the very first time in the history of our relations. I am delighted to be able to report that the Turkish Government has since acknowledged this accession partnership as the basis for further cooperation, giving us good cause to hope that we will achieve precisely what we set out to achieve, i.e. that our policy will help the forces of reform in Turkey give new impetus to the reform process and press on with reform in a bid to achieve membership of the European Union.
This draft resolution highlights our common objective of bringing Turkey closer to the European Union. We must constantly repeat in no uncertain terms that it is in our strategic European interest to anchor Turkey solidly and permanently in our community of values. We want Turkey to be a modern, open state in which democracy and human rights are respected, the rule of law applies and minorities are protected and respected. We can already see that the Helsinki process has set a series of interesting and important developments in motion.
In Turkey itself, the first signs of the incipient reform process, a process of fundamental and comprehensive political reform, are beginning to show. Relations between Greece and Turkey have improved considerably. Just a few days ago, the Greek and Turkish foreign secretaries confirmed that both countries wished to agree on and implement further confidence-building measures, both bilaterally and under the aegis of NATO. And finally, negotiations on Cyprus have been resumed under the aegis of the United Nations. So far, five rounds of talks have taken place. That in itself is a huge success.
However, the Commission stands by what it has clearly stated in its progress report, i.e. that Turkey, like every other candidate country, must meet the Copenhagen criteria during the process of rapprochement. For the moment, we are focusing mainly on the political criteria, because accession negotiations are out of the question until all the political criteria have been met. I repeat: accession negotiations are out of the question until we are sure that the political conditions have been met; which is not the case at present.
Concerns have been voiced on several occasions here in the House. I agree: we should be worried that there is too little respect for human rights and the rights of minorities, we should be worried about the constitutional role of the army and we are still extremely worried about the situation of the population of Kurdish origin and about the state of emergency in the four remaining provinces in the south-east.
However, as I have said, the Helsinki process is already showing positive developments and positive results. The most important thing, as far as I am concerned, is that Helsinki triggered a debate in Turkey, a public debate on the conditions of Turkey's accession to the EU, a debate which is supporting and bolstering the forces of reform in Turkey. For example, the Human Rights Committee in the Turkish national assembly has reported on torture in Turkey and the Turkish government has passed a resolution to bring the Turkish constitution and the Turkish legal system into line with the values of the European Union.
What is important is that everything which being announced and discussed in Turkey is actually being put into practice. I think that the accession partnership which we have tabled is the best way of supporting this process and of ensuring that the European Union is able to exert the necessary influence on the process itself. We have listed the short- and medium-term priorities which Turkey needs to implement under a national programme in order to meet the Copenhagen criteria and on which financial support will then be based.
The political section of our report describes the fundamental and comprehensive political reforms. They include constitutional guarantees of freedom of opinion, assembly and religion, the abolition of the death penalty, and end to torture, reconciling the role of the military with the rules of play of a democratic society, lifting the state of emergency in the south-east of the country and guaranteeing cultural rights for all Turks, irrespective of their national origin.
I have stressed time and again in my contacts with the Turkish Government that the European Union expects Turkey to give a firm undertaking that it will take action to implement these reform objectives. And I must say that I am convinced that the Turkish Government is firmly resolved to take a decisive approach to the reform projects needed. President Sezar clearly stated why Turkey had no alternative but to embark on this process of reform in his address to the Turkish Government last month and I fully endorse what the Turkish President said. Turkey must become a full democracy, not only because the European Union insists on it but because the Turkish people deserve it.
What all this means is that we still have a great deal of work to do. That also applies to meeting the economic criteria and the capacity to adopt the acquis communautaire. Here too, I agree in the main with Mr Morillon's report.
As you know, the Commission proposed a directive in July, setting out the legal basis for the accession partnership and creating a uniform financial framework. This text has been submitted for you to take a stand on it. I should like to take this opportunity of asking you to support this proposal. Without a legal basis, the accession partnership will not have what I for one am sure will be a positive political impact, because we will be unable to pass a resolution on it.
We are calling on Turkey, as a candidate for membership of the European Union, to engage in a process of comprehensive reform. But that means that we too must be prepared to support Turkey's process of reform, just as we are supporting all the other candidate countries with substantial funding. As a possible contribution to this, the Commission has proposed that the European Investment Bank grant Turkey a line of credit of EUR 450 million, to be used mainly to improve the competitiveness of the Turkish economy on the internal market.
Completion of the necessary political reforms will be one of the focal points if not the focal point of relations between the Union and Turkey. I am delighted that you will be exchanging views on this question with your Turkish counterparts in the joint parliamentary committee next week. I also welcome the proposals in this report on stepping up parliamentary cooperation and strengthening civil society. Thank you.
Swoboda (PSE). (DE) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, Mr President-in-Office, Commissioner, may I start, on behalf of my group, by warmly congratulating the two rapporteurs on their reports. A report on Turkey is no easy task because there are always so many contradictory developments. There have been positive developments, such as the new minister for Europe, such as the new special secretariat-general for European affairs attached to the prime minister's office, but there have also been regrettable shortcomings as far as Turkey's preparations for accession are concerned. Nothing has been done about abolishing the death penalty, and very little has been done to set minority and human rights on a solid legal basis, even if a few UN conventions have been signed.
It does not augur well that a person who offers no unconditional guarantee that more will be done about human rights has been elected as chairman of the human rights committee in parliament. The same goes for the Kurdish question. There have been a few vaguely positive signs here. Reports in the Kurdish language may be allowed on television and radio and a certain degree of recognition of the Kurdish culture could follow. On the other hand, a number of mayors have been arrested and the Hadep party have trouble in Kurdish areas in the south-east.
Surely these contradictions alone illustrate the struggle within Turkey itself between progressive forces and reactionary forces, which simply have no interest in moving towards Europe. And that is a pity. The Commissioner is quite right. We must and we should do everything we can to support and back the positive, progressive forces within Turkey.
I should like here, quite openly, to touch on the so-called Armenian question. At a meeting which I, unfortunately, was unable to attend, my group decided by a majority to support Amendment No 25. As far as the content is concerned, there is little to say against this motion. Unfortunately, however, a number of people are using the motions on Armenia and the massacre of the Armenians as a pretext to question, in a roundabout way, the very notion of Turkey's joining the European Union. I think that is wrong and I think it is dangerous. Nonetheless, I would urge Turkey to take this issue seriously, whatever the outcome of the vote. We all have to come to terms with our own history and with the actions of our antecedent countries and states openly and honestly. I think that Turkey should take a fresh approach and that it and Armenia should commission their historians to analyse what happened in order to uncover, explain, take a clear stand on and clearly admit what happened.
I think that would be the best way out of this tricky situation, because it is far easier to undertake this sort of analysis yourself than it is to impose it from outside. In this sense I should like to revert to what the Commissioner said. He said that it was in our strategic interest to anchor Turkey solidly and permanently in the European community of values I think those were his words. That is what is at stake here and Turkey too should acknowledge it. Even if Parliament is critical and even if Parliament is perhaps more critical than the Council and the Commission can ever be, we trust that Turkey will choose this way forward and will become a member of the European Union just as soon as it has put its house in order.
Duff (ELDR). Mr President, the European Liberal Group strongly welcomes the Morillon report which we find skilful, frank and forceful. We will resist the efforts, some of them fairly spurious, to upset the balance the report successfully achieves, especially those amendments which seek to set up the European Parliament as a tribunal upon the past.
Turkey is clearly the place for a debate on the past as part of its general self-examination concerning fundamental rights. Such a self-appraisal will amount to a veritable cultural revolution. We should be satisfied that process is proven to have started.
The Morillon report and the accession to partnership commit the European Union to Turkey's candidature. It is now up to Turkey to show that it is committed to membership. The European Parliament will play its part in fostering relations with political parties, the NGOs and the press, as well as developing its tricky and sometimes fraught relationship with the Grand National Assembly. European Liberals are certainly prepared to play their part in bringing closer the prospect of Turkish membership and the spreading of prosperity, stability and security to all European peoples.
Cohn-Bendit (Verts/ALE). (FR) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, Mr Morillon I must congratulate you on your report. Unfortunately, however, you have not, and therefore we have not, managed to solve all the problems.
In the first place, it is clear that the strategy of accepting Turkey' s candidature was the right one. It was the correct strategy, as the Commissioner commented, because the debate which has taken place in Turkey today in order for it to become a member of the European Union is tantamount to a debate in favour of radical reform of the political situation in the country.
We are at an important historic phase for Turkey, which has made the transition from the phase of debate to the phase of practical action, i.e. the implementation of reforms of the Constitution and the law, such as, for instance, an amnesty for prisoners of conscience.
This is the phase which Turkey is now facing. We must be perfectly clear, we cannot move on to any further stages without Turkey making the transition from debate to practical action. That is exactly what the Morillon report states.
Then, there is the Cyprus situation. On this subject we have to tell Turkey that its refusal to accept the rulings of the European Court of Justice in Strasbourg cannot be tolerated. There have been a number of rulings against Turkey. Turkey must without further ado fall in line with the rulings of the European Court of Justice as a token of acceptance of international relations as defined by us, and not just by them.
We now come to the basic problem. A variety of strategies are considered within the European Parliament and within the Member States. Some are in favour of the candidature and the accession of Turkey, and want this candidature to involve a radical reform of Turkish society. Then there are those that are opposed to the country' s accession, who take advantage of the essential debate on Turkish policy and reforms to create a great division between Turkey and Europe. Turkish society obviously perceives this contradictory attitude.
That is why the final problem to be resolved, the Armenian genocide, is of such importance. There is no one here, least of all myself, who would deny the fact that genocide was perpetrated against the Armenians during the last period of the Ottoman Empire. It is a clear fact, just as it is clear that Turkey, like any civilised society, should get used to the idea of facing up to its past, however terrible it may have been. This is one of the indispensable conditions in terms of ideology and civilisation needed for any country to join Europe.
There is another matter, and if we have to vote on it today, the majority of my Group will vote in favour of this resolution. I am not certain, personally, that this is a useful move, because I wish to take the debate to Turkey. In other words, I propose that the European Parliament should itself hold a debate on the Armenian genocide, the majority will follow on and we shall continue the debate in Turkey.
Brie (GUE/NGL). (DE) Mr President, I should like to start by extending my express thanks to Mr Morillon and Mr Seppänen for their reports. Mr Morillon, in my view, your report is an exceptionally realistic and responsible report. We have indeed seen a number of interesting symbolic acts on the part of the Turkish Government since the Helsinki Council resolution several months ago. However, nothing has been done to change the horrendous situation in Turkish jails, discrimination against the Kurds or Turkey's policy on Cyprus. The constitutional role of the Turkish military, which is irreconcilable with the rule of law and democratic mores, has become, without doubt, one of the keys to future relations between the EU and Turkey and will only be resolved if the military relinquishes its power. There may well be differences of opinion on the Morillon report within my group, but one thing is clear and I imagine this is true of the other groups and that is that we have no intention whatsoever of mitigating our criticism on these issues. Compromise is possible almost everywhere, except here.
The most important and tangible result so far is that a debate has begun and a certain degree of political differentiation has started to emerge in Turkey. We must acknowledge and actively support this. Nonetheless, what we are looking for here is not just compliance with the Copenhagen criteria but compulsory democratic standards. Turkey's membership on this basis, rather than for the geo-strategic reasons put forward by the USA or NATO, would enrich the European Union and represent a significant step towards a united Europe.
I have not overlooked the problems which this might cause, such as the fact that, geographically, the EU would then stretch well beyond Europe into what are highly unstable regions from the point of view of security policy. The fact that the strategic aspects of the prospects of European integration have been addressed neither by the governments nor, Commissioner, by the Commission, and have not been discussed with Parliament in connection either with Turkey's candidate status or with current enlargement to the east is, in my view, unacceptable given the implications. In my experience the experience, I may add, of a life which knows just as much about radical social change as the refusal to recognise the need for it in time , there is no substitute for critical candour. Anything else would simply play into the hands of those in the EU and in Turkey who oppose this membership. And that is where, Commissioner Verheugen, I start to lose the plot in your progress report. When you visited Turkey in March, you at least referred to the Kurdish problem by name, as you did here today. Your report makes no mention of this problem per se. I think that is a tragic step backwards in comparison with the old Commission's 1999 report. Truth is where the concept corresponds with its reality. At least that is what Mr Hegel believed. I have yet to see any real progress in Turkey, but I do believe it is possible. But, in my book, the Commission report is a real step backwards.
President. Colleagues, please sit down and stop talking! We are still in the debate.
(Interjection from Mr Ferber: Tell them in German)
President. There is no point, Mr Ferber, because some people have taken their headphones off and, like you, speak Bavarian rather than German!
Queiró (UEN). (PT) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, the explanatory statement of General Morillon' s report states that the decision on Turkey' s accession is too important for the future of the Union and of Turkey itself to be concluded in smoke-filled back rooms or behind closed doors. I fully agree with this statement, but I would say that the decision by the Helsinki European Council to grant Turkey applicant country status was not preceded by the essential debate both public and parliamentary that General Morillon' s explanatory statement also calls for.
Turkey' s candidature has always divided European opinion and I find it surprising that there is still an ongoing debate on the reasons for changing the traditional position of reserve with which this candidature has always been viewed. There is, of course, the geographical problem. Have we forgotten that only a small part of Turkish territory falls within the European continent? What new doctrine on the European area allows us to frame this new concept of external borders that would result from including Turkey in the European Union? Europe' s borders are now peaceful but, if Turkey does one day join the European Union, Europe will have a new border; not just an extra-European border, but a border of war and conflict. One only needs to think of Iran, Iraq, Syria, Armenia and Georgia.
Furthermore, how can we resolve the conflict with the common democratic model that Europeans accept and wish to see, which results from the countless restrictions we see in Turkey on people exercising their fundamental rights, of which the maintenance of the death penalty is merely the worst example? And what of the Kurdish question, which arises from the fact that the Turkish State does not respect the basic rights of cultural identity of the millions of Kurds that live there?
Lastly I do not feel that questions have been asked concerning the size of the actual population represented by Turkey' s candidacy and the difficulties that this will cause, not only in terms of the Union' s geography but especially in terms of the already delicate balance between large, medium-sized and small Member States. I shall conclude as I began: the idea and purpose of my speech have been to draw attention to the fact that changes on this scale should not take place without a democratic, ongoing debate, otherwise the deficit in citizenship and participation that many Europeans feel with regard to the model of European construction will continue to grow.
Lang (TDI). (FR) Mr President, the Morillon report in itself provides a perfect illustration of the basic contradictions in the European attitude to Turkey.
This motion for a resolution contains anything and everything, with, in the first place, a great many illusions and a great many ritualistic recitals, which are, fortunately, immediately overtaken by reality, and this Turkish reality obviously does not match European illusions or dreams. The suggestion that the Europeans are going to bring about, I quote, a radical change in habits and outlook in the Turks is both extremely naive and extremely self-important. What arrogance on the part of the European Union to seek to foist its own values, institutional principles and political culture on the Turkish nation! The twentieth century has, however, proved the extent to which forms of constructivism and state control, cut off from reality, and ideologies of all sort could lead to disaster. Let us therefore leave the Turkish nation their right to self-determination, their right to decide their own future, their right to be different, and their right to retain values of civilisation that are patently not our own.
So the only real preamble which we should all be bound by is a recital taking into consideration the obvious facts of the situation. Turkey is not a European country, its culture is not European, and its values are not European. Turkey must not, therefore, join the European Union. That is no obstacle, moreover, to Europe' s developing economic, diplomatic, political and peaceful relations with a free and independent Turkey. Such a clear stance would, among other things, at least have the merit of no longer blowing hot and cold with regard to Turkish Governments, no longer telling them, yes but later , yes but on certain conditions , yes but this or that . Europe' s contradictions and prevarications only lead to incomprehension and humiliation. We cannot play about with the dignity of nations.
We shall therefore vote against this report, just as we have voted against all the reports seeking to make Turkey a member of the European Union.
Belder (EDD). (NL) Mr President, is Turkey really ready to solve internal and overseas problems such as the conflict over Cyprus and the minorities issue, to the satisfaction of the European Union?
Turkey' s former Foreign Minister, Mümtaz Soysal, recently put this pressing question. It is an extremely opportune question, as it happens, because just how important is it to Ankara that Turkey accedes to the European Union? It is common knowledge that to do so, Turkey must first fulfil the Copenhagen Criteria. As Mr Morillon rightly states in his well-balanced report, there is no sign whatsoever of this happening yet.
Mr President, with your permission I would like to briefly take up three fundamental points in Mr Morillon' s report: the political influence exerted by the Turkish army, the Kurdish question and the aspect referred to earlier of 'tolerance for other religions and cultures' .
When it comes to the political influence exerted by the Turkish army and it is unremitting to this day! the very primacy of civilian politics is at stake, no less. Why are Turkey' s politicians failing to deliver the goods on this crucial issue of power? Or perhaps they are only too willing to hide behind the military apparatus when it comes to European demands for reform?
If Turkey were to allow the Kurds, of which there are some 12 million, full cultural autonomy, this could largely defuse the thorny Kurdish issue.
Yet how hard it is to win the Turkish political establishment over to this solution, from which both parties stand to benefit. Take, for example, the implacable attitude of the chairman of the parliamentary committee for Foreign Affairs, Kamran Inan. This mentor for Turkish foreign policy categorically rules out any form of concession over Cyprus or the Kurds. According to Inan, in the final analysis, uncertain membership of the European Union is no compensation for the sacrifice of national interests.
Incidentally, the ultranationalist MHP party was in deadly earnest when it underlined 'the superiority of the Turkish race' at its party conference ten days ago. And remember, according to the latest opinion polls the MHP is the most popular political movement in Turkey.
Mr Morillon makes the point in recital D that the successors to the legendary Atatürk should not perceive the Union as an 'exclusive Christian club' but as a community of shared values which embrace, in particular, 'tolerance for other religions and cultures'
The fact of the matter is that by and large, the position of the Christian minority in Turkey is worse than that of Muslim groups in Europe. It is certainly a good deal easier to build a mosque in Europe than it is to build a church in Turkey; which is another point the Commission and Parliament should give serious thought to in their contacts with the Turkish authorities.
Raschhofer (NI). (DE) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, this report troubles me. The problems are so serious as to preclude Turkey's accession in the foreseeable future. I should like to table three reservations: Turkey has not even started to resolve the problem of the minorities living there. Secondly, there is no end in sight to the dispute with Greece over the island of Cyprus, which still smoulders on. And thirdly, Turkey's criminal justice system, based as it still is on the death penalty and police torture, is unworthy of a western democracy. Horrific pictures of serious maltreatment of detainees by the police were recently broadcast on German television.
In other words, Turkey still has a long and difficult way to go and it obviously needs our help along the way. We aim to help Turkey become a free democratic country in which the rule of law prevails. The Council should consider whether granting Turkey candidate status has done more harm than good here. It will have done more harm if Turkey's expectations of accession have been raised and cannot be met because of the political situation. The Islamic forces will certainly know how to make political capital out of any such disappointment.
IN THE CHAIR: MRS FONTAINE
President. The debate will be continued this afternoon. We shall now proceed to the votes.
Sommer (PPE-DE). (DE) Mr President, as a member of the EU-Turkey Joint Parliamentary Committee, I take a close interest in Turkey's accession prospects. I should like today to highlight Mr Morillon's call for a European-Turkish discussion forum in the House and for a debate on Turkey's accession prospects in the national parliaments in our Member States. This is important for Turkey, but it is even more important for the Member States themselves and for our citizens. Our governments agreed to Turkey's accession prospects in Helsinki. The people of Turkey were surprised by this decision and many still fail to understand it. This is because Turkey's own people have been offered no forum for discussion, with the result that the issue is being discussed subliminally, in ignorance and without any knowledge of the background to the Helsinki decision. This is giving rise to an anti-attitude which we cannot afford in the Union, given the large number of Turkish immigrants already living here, and which, given the increase in xenophobia, we must not afford.
My Turkish counterparts in the Turkish Grand National Assembly are also complaining about this deplorable state of affairs in which no-one wants to talk to them openly, no-one from the national governments or parliaments and, to all intents and purposes, no-one from the European institutions. Of course there are informal discussions, but there are, to all intents and purposes, no official meetings. One almost gets the impression that there is a sort of gentlemen's agreement to talk about Turkey's accession only behind closed doors. What is everyone afraid of? Was the Helsinki decision premature? The initial euphoria of the Council and Commission has clearly waned. Apart from declarations of intent, so far Turkey has made no fundamental progress towards meeting the political criteria.
Consequently, there is even more need now, almost one year on from Helsinki, for Turkey's accession prospects to be debated in our national parliaments and with our citizens. We owe it both to Turkey and to our own people, and this sort of discussion will perhaps help to integrate the Turkish immigrants already living in our midst.
Ludford (ELDR). Mr Morillon has written a good report stressing that neither religious objections nor geo-strategic considerations are the decisive factors for Turkey's accession.
The challenge for Turkey in fulfilling the Copenhagen criteria is to reform not only the constitution but also its political and intellectual inspiration. In Western Europe ideas of pluralism and differentiated identities within the same State have led to recognition of cultural, linguistic and political rights and devolution. Turkey needs to adopt these modern European notions of diversity and the right to be different. The Kemalist ideology that was modern in 1930 is not so in 2000. Hence my amendments on the need for a political solution for the Kurdish people.
It is unacceptable that the Commission omitted any mention of the Kurds from the accession partnership document, though they have been referred to in successive regular reports and Mr Verheugen mentioned them this morning.
I hope Parliament and the Council will remedy that omission. It does not help Turkey or the European Union to fight shy of this issue, the biggest single cause of Turkey's poor human rights record. Until there is a solution for the Kurds there will be no fulfilment of the Copenhagen criteria and I therefore call upon Parliament to pass my amendments, and on the Council and Parliament to insist that a solution for the Kurds is a key to unlocking the problems of Turkey fulfilling the Copenhagen criteria.
Isler Béguin (Verts/ALE). (FR) Mr President, Mr President-in-Office of the Council, Commissioner, as a member of the delegation to the parliamentary cooperation committees for relations with the three countries of the southern Caucasus Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia I wholeheartedly support Mr Morillon' s report, particularly Article 18, which calls on the Turkish Government to improve its relations with its neighbours in the Caucasus.
While there is a special relationship between Azerbaijan and Turkey, this is far from being the case for Armenia, a country against which Turkey is maintaining a commercial blockade, which is not acceptable in a country which has been accepted as a candidate for membership of the European Union. The dispute relating to acknowledgement of the Armenian genocide should also be waived in order to enable diplomatic and trade relations to be normalised, especially as Turkey plays a key role in the project for the construction of an oil pipeline taking petroleum from the Caspian Sea to the Turkish port of Ceyhan on the Mediterranean.
Turkey also needs to take on board environmental considerations, particularly in schemes such as the construction of major dams, which will necessarily have an impact on the water systems of neighbouring countries.
Zacharakis (PPE-DE). (EL) Mr President, I should like to congratulate General Morillon on what is, under the circumstances, a most balanced report. We all know how difficult it is under such difficult circumstances to deal efficiently with successive efforts to serve political, economic and other purposes and interests at the expense of principles and rules of law and generally using two yardsticks and two sets of scales.
That is why the frankness which runs through the Morillon report deserves special mention, although fewer excuses at some points in the report would, I think, have reflected the factors used to evaluate Turkey's progress towards accession more accurately. In this context, I would like to reiterate the basic conclusion in paragraph 22 that Turkey does not meet the Copenhagen criteria and draw attention both to the fact that Turkey has been condemned on numerous occasions for acts and omissions in relation to human rights, democratic freedoms and its international attitude and to the European Parliament's recommendations that Turkey comply with the relevant European values.
On the other hand, although paragraphs 9, 10, 12 and 17 expressly refer to infringements of these values by Turkey on numerous occasions, especially by the Turkish occupying army in Cyprus, which Turkey is called on to withdraw, the fact remains that it would have been preferable to roundly condemn Turkey's present and past responsibility for problems caused by its intransigence and the resultant impasse on the Cyprus question where, it should be noted, there are clear signs of Turkey's intention to provoke a new heated crisis , its failure to abide by international conventions with its expansionist policy towards Greece, its concealment of the historical truth of the Armenian genocide and its disregard for the fundamental minority rights of the Kurds.
Something along these lines might have been more helpful, including for Turkey, because it would have sent a more accurate message to the forces in Turkey which really do intend to modernise the country and it would have supported their efforts to put conditions in place which guarantee its European prospects, giving them serious arguments with which to convince the many sceptics that those prospects are, in fact, well-founded.
Katiforis (PSE). (EL) Mr President, Mr President-in-Office, Commissioner, ladies and gentlemen, the President-in-Office said this morning, this is a highly topical debate because it coincides with the documents presented by the Commission the report on Turkey's progress and of course, more importantly, the accession partnership.
This is the first serious step on the road towards Turkey's accession and the accession process can now move into the practical application stage. We, for our part, welcome this. Turkey, for all its differences, always was and still is an integral part of Europe. Old feuds cannot deny Turkey its place in the life of the Member States of the European Union. If Europe can accept Turkey for what it is and welcome it into the European family, with all its differences, it will, I think, have made a quantum political and cultural leap. It will have demonstrated that our values are catholic values which seek not to iron out the differences between the partners but to assimilate their differences and peculiarities.
Of course, in order for there to be assimilation, there must be common ground. Our rapporteur has identified and brought Turkey's attention to this common ground in his really excellent report, for which I too wish to thank him. The common ground is democracy and it presupposes freedom of opinion, i.e. equal human and political rights for everyone, irrespective of national origin, and the right to choose a government in free elections, in truly free elections and only in free elections, something which is, of course, incompatible with autonomous centres of power, especially autonomous centres of excessive military power. What more could one ask of the Morillon report? Only, perhaps, that it might have stated more clearly at this point that there can be no democracy in Turkey and there can be no accession by Turkey unless the military is stripped of its excessive, constitutionally-protected powers. Democracy is compatible with institutionalised civil functions for the armed forces; it is not compatible with fundamental military intervention in political life, irrespective of whether or not it is sanctioned constitutionally.
It is only natural to expect a democratic country to display a peaceful attitude towards its neighbours, especially if they happen to be future partners. And from this point of view, the report is right to condemn the bombing of Kendakor by the Turkish air force and to highlight and reiterate the Turkish Government's obligation to support negotiations between Turkish and Greek Cypriots without preliminary conditions.
What is worrying is that Turkish officials and the Turkish press seems to be taking a reactionary stand, rather than encouraging Turkey to move in this direction. I trust that Turkey will start to take a more serious view of things and understand just what its obligations are.
Nicholson of Winterbourne (ELDR). Mr President, it is a matter of regret that our debate today has been marred by a small cluster of hostile amendments. These have been put forward by the TDI, GUE et al. I find them unseemly, ill-advised, untimely and inappropriate because these are amendments which use three words "genocide", "Muslim" and "Asian" in a way that is racist, derogatory and discriminatory and which causes impenetrable and false barriers to be erected against Turkey's accession to the Union.
Muslims follow one of the three Abrahaminic faiths. Islam is the brother of Christianity and Judaism. "Asian", in this context, is used as a racist term to be deplored and dropped. As regards genocide: Turkey is not responsible for the Armenian massacre. If we accept that, do we then place all of the Ottoman Empire's crimes against humanity at modern Turkey's door? Indeed, the UN Convention of 1948 has not been broadened to include the Armenian tragedy. Until that happens I do not think this Parliament should act differently. I welcome Turkey's careful progress towards the Union and I support the Commission and the Morillon report.
Boudjenah (GUE/NGL). (FR) Turkey' s accession to the European Union is an issue that has become even more topical.
Unlike some others, I am not stirring up the religious argument in order to put off this prospect. This cannot, however, be just a formality. I am thinking, instead, of acknowledgement of the Armenian genocide of 1915. In the country currently holding the Presidency of the European Union, the French National Senate recently at last proclaimed this significant act of public recognition, two and a half years after the French National Assembly.
Acknowledging this act of genocide does not mean that the present-day Turkey is a barbaric nation. Quite the contrary, a nation only grows in stature by facing up to its past. How could Europe maintain its credibility with regard to the state violence perpetrated in the world today, even, at times, including genocide, if it were to embrace Turkey as a Member while brushing aside its history? Furthermore, the ongoing denial and repression of the Kurdish people is as appalling as it is unacceptable. The Turkish parliamentarian, Leyla Zana, winner of the Sakharov Prize, and in prison since 1995 merely for haven spoken in Kurdish within the Turkish Parliament, is still languishing in prison. These are facts that the European Parliament has highlighted on a number of occasions. There is no justification for our omitting them today.
Sacrédeus (PPE-DE). (SV) Mr President, Paragraph 17 of Mr Morillon' s report states that the European Parliament 'calls on the Turkish Government to withdraw its occupation forces from northern Cyprus' . I am myself the author of this wording in the form of Amendment 72, adopted by the Committee on Foreign Affairs, Human Rights, Common Security and Defence Policy on 10 October 2000.
I should particularly like to address Mr Verheugen, as the Commissioner with responsibility for enlargement, and also the French Presidency. Almost 40 per cent of Cyprus is occupied by foreign troops in the form of Turkish soldiers. Eleven years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, Nicosia is now Europe' s only divided capital. Historically, Cyprus the island of Saint Paul and Saint Barnabas has not previously been divided, but has now been so for 26 years due to a foreign invasion.
The EU' s four freedoms cannot be applied to the whole of Cyprus following the partition. Is it possible for Turkey to begin membership negotiations at all without the four freedoms' being applied in Cyprus? Must not Nicosia become a united city and Cyprus a united country? Must not the occupying troops be withdrawn?
Previous speakers referred to the genocide in Armenia. This took place only 24 years before Hitler' s time and before the Second World War, when Hitler began the annihilation of the Jews. He himself referred to this genocide as if it were something forgotten. Turkey must come to terms with the truth.
Schulz (PSE). (DE) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, Mr Morillon has made a comment under Recital D in his report which should, I think, play an important role in this debate.
Mr Morillon says that Turkey should try not to perceive the European Union as an exclusive Christian club which wants to keep it, Turkey, out. This premise presupposes that the opposite holds true within the European Union, i.e. that we are not an exclusive Christian club which wants, can or should exclude Turkey on relativistic religious or cultural grounds. The premise should be that a country with a laicistic constitution inhabited predominantly by Moslems which is based on the values on which the European Union itself is founded i.e. freedom, equality and tolerance could enrich the European Union. The European Union is not founded on religious values, it is founded on values which we owe to the Enlightenment and which, quite independently of the religious leanings of a person or a country and its inhabitants, find their way into the constitutions of the Member States and, as we have seen during today's debate on the Charter of Fundamental Rights, into the EU's perception of fundamental rights. This means that, as a democratic state under the rule of law with separation of powers and fundamental values as we understand them, Turkey will enrich the European Union.
At the same time, however, it is clear from Mr Morillon's report that Turkey is nowhere near meeting these demands. The Copenhagen criteria are, admittedly, economic criteria, but they are also criteria which are centred around precisely these points. The question is, how far have tolerance, democratic rule of law, separation of powers and respect for the separation of powers been put into practice in Turkey? And the answer is, as Mr Morillon's report makes clear, not far enough. Too little progress has been made and Turkey must do better.
Papayannakis (GUE/NGL). (EL) Mr President, this debate is not about how the European Union will integrate into Turkey; it is about how Turkey will integrate into the European Union. I agree with that entirely and I think that the report by the honourable Member shows how this can be achieved. I should therefore like to turn to the Commissioner and the President-in-Office and ask them, given their level of support for the Morillon report as they themselves have said , why they were so lacking in inspiration and loath to include in the accession partnership which they formulated issues such as the Kurds, the Cyprus question and peaceful, non-threatening coexistence with Turkey's neighbouring countries, issues which have been left out of the basic debate with Turkey.
As far as the Armenian genocide is concerned I fully agree that it should not be a precondition to Turkey's accession. However, the debate here is about what we have to say and what we remember. Turkey will become an essentially democratic country once it learns to live with its past, just as democratic Germany has learned to live with its past we asked the same of it.
Langen (PPE-DE). (DE) Mr President, I should like to offer General Morillon my warmest congratulations on his report, in which he has combined perceptiveness with clarity. In addition to explaining how far Turkey is from complying with the Copenhagen criteria, Mr Morillon also lists and enumerates what additional conditions Turkey must meet. They include the Cyprus question, the role of the Turkish army, especially the national security council, the all-powerful position of which is out of keeping with the principle of democracy, the Kurdish question, which is of paramount importance, and last but not least, the virulent conflict with Greece which Turkey must endeavour to defuse.
Commissioner Verheugen has explained to the House that, first and foremost, the political criteria must be met. As you all know, our group was highly sceptical about Turkey's candidate status but we are delighted, now that Turkey has candidate status, that it is on the ball and has decided to engage in a process of reform in order to meet the demands of the European Union. Turkey is being responsible.
I should like to mention a number of economic criteria, such as the high rate of inflation which was over 100% and which is still over 50%, the high national debt as the result of the strain on the national budget from military expenditure and the military conflict with the PKK, high real interest rates, the continuing predominance of the public sector, huge regional differences in Turkey, a prosperity differential within Turkey of 1:10, which the European Union will never be able to bring under control, different educational qualifications, illiteracy, which still affects 27.6% of women, i.e. problems which Turkey itself must resolve.
The optimism of people such as deputy prime minister Mesut Yilmaz, who believes that the Maastricht criteria will be met as early as 2002, is to my mind exaggerated. Turkey must know that it has embarked on a difficult journey, that it will have to give up its sovereignty and will have to exert itself. We want to support it on this journey, not obstruct it and, above all, we want to keep our financial promises.
Poos (PSE). (FR) Mr President, Mr President-in-Office of the Council, Commissioner, ladies and gentlemen, I should like to speak in this debate in my capacity as the author of the report on the accession of Cyprus. Since both Turkey and Cyprus are candidates for membership of the European Union, it is increasingly clear that a solution to the Cypriot question is becoming a matter of internal policy. Commission Verheugen has confirmed that the Cyprus issue plays a very important part in the discussions currently being conducted with Turkey. Given the political and military presence of Turkey in the northern part of the island of Cyprus, this could not fail to be the case.
Our rapporteur, Mr Morillon, deserves our congratulations for stipulating that a solution to the Cyprus problem must be one of the preconditions for Turkey' s accession. 'It is hard to understand today,' he writes, 'how it can remain divided by a wall, while in many other places such walls have crumbled over the past decade.' In order for this outdated wall to be brought down, it is now essential for Turkey to comply with the Security Council resolutions requiring it to withdraw its occupying forces from the northern part of the island. Paragraph 17 of our motion for a resolution explicitly calls for this.
It is high time that Turkey listened to the Turkish Cypriots, the great majority of whom wish to overcome the divisions of the past and join Europe alongside the Greek citizens of Cyprus. If, on the other hand, Turkey continues to fuel the separatist, even annexationist impulses of the unofficial government of northern Cyprus, then it will be responsible for causing the proximity talks to fail. In the medium term, an attitude of this kind would be an insurmountable obstacle to Turkey' s accession. One of the three conditions stipulated in the Morillon report, a condition that the European Parliament will be adopting, would still remain unfulfilled.
Once the Ankara Government has understood that the status quo is not acceptable to Europe or to the rest of the world, then considerable progress may be made: the island may be reunified, and a fair and lasting global settlement may be achieved tomorrow in compliance with international law.
Van Orden (PPE-DE). Mr President, there is much in this resolution on Turkey's progress towards accession which is commendable in particular the call to the Commission to implement a properly resourced pre-accession strategy. But where is the real welcome for the Helsinki decision to accord Turkey candidate status? Where is the recognition in the resolution of the remarkable efforts, and I quote here from the explanatory statement that accompanied the resolution, 'the remarkable efforts that Turkey is making to adapt its structures to EU requirements'? In fact what a pity that Turkey was not discussed during the wider enlargement debate in the context of the other candidate countries.
Of course peoples of Kurdish origins as well as other cultural and linguistic minorities must not be subjected to political, economic or other discrimination and must have the opportunity to express themselves freely, but this expression should be through entirely peaceful means and without intimidation and terrorism. We should remember that the removal of Turkey from the western orbit was a prime objective of Soviet policy throughout the Cold War period and that the PKK was supported as an instrument of this policy. Where is the demand in this resolution that the representatives of minorities should renounce violence? Civil peace is a prerequisite for investment and economic progress. Terrorism has been a barrier to such progress.
We should also be clear that the resolution of extraordinarily difficult problems such as Cyprus, which requires the assent of all the people of Cyprus, will not be helped by frustrating Turkish progress towards accession. After all Turkey, along with Greece and the United Kingdom, is one of the guarantor powers in relation to Cyprus.
I detect increasing nervousness in this Parliament about the potential impact of the accession of Turkey on the Union. I might say there is increasing nervousness among the citizens of many of the current Member States about the pace and intensity of political integration within the EU and the leftist thread which runs through the fabric of this development and is increasingly visible. How much more desirable and acceptable would be the goal of a looser community of nation-states trading freely and acting in unison over a limited range of policy areas and how much easier it would then be to accommodate a country such as Turkey.
Korakas (GUE/NGL). (EL) Mr President, we cannot vote in favour of the Morillon report due because we are convinced that, contrary to what is being maintained and what many people in Turkey hope, the accession process will not improve the standard of living of the people. On the contrary, it will make it worse. The real purpose of the report finds expression in the draft resolution, with its references to Turkey's gross domestic product, the high level of trade with the European Union and the anti-grass roots, liberal, economic reforms to accelerate privatisation and strengthen the bases of a free market economy which the Turkish Grand National Assembly has passed at the request of the International Monetary Fund.
The enthusiasm with which the resolution welcomes Turkey's intention to commit military capabilities under the common security and defence policy is in keeping with the general tone of the report. In other words, we are talking about increasing the degree to which Turkey is subject to the economic, political and military objectives of big business in the European Union.
We have not, of course, overlooked the positive references in the resolution, such as the reference to human rights, despite the fact that it mistakes manipulation of the status quo for progress and ignores the 10,000-15,000 political prisoners. There are also positive references to Cyprus, with the call for the occupying forces to be withdrawn, to the need to implement the decisions of the European court, as in the Loïzidou case, to the need for a political solution to the Kurdish question and to the bombings in Iraq. But we are afraid that, yet again, they are no more than a wish list. Why is none of this included in the European Commission's report?
For us, the basic issue is this: despite numerous allegations to the contrary, not only has Turkey failed to improve the standard of living of its people, in certain sectors it has made it worse since customs union in 1995 and the declaration of candidate status in 1999. There can be no doubt that the accession process and accession itself will reduce their quality of life, especially in the economic and social sectors. There can likewise be no doubt that any funding which it receives will be used to strengthen its oppressive instruments and encourage the regime to continue with its present policy.
Besides, we fail to recognise the sovereign circles of the European Union as defenders of human rights. Their actions to date have proven the contrary, which is precisely why our feelings of solidarity with the people of Turkey force us to oppose its accession and, by extension, the reports which advocate it.
Moscovici, Council. (FR) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, Commissioner, as several Members of this Parliament have pointed out today, the path to Turkey' s accession to the European Union will be long and hard.
A number of speakers have expressed their concerns regarding the human rights situation and the treatment of minorities, particularly the Kurdish question, the heavy involvement of the military in political life, the legal system and capital punishment, all of which are very serious issues. We can but share these concerns, which were duly expressed by the Commission in its last annual report.
At the same time, however, I feel we must not paint the situation blacker than it actually is. Progress has been made and encouraging signs can be seen. The Turkish Government has announced a whole raft of reforms. President Sezer has made a personal commitment to the process of modernisation in his country. I therefore think we must encourage the Turkish authorities to forge ahead in order to achieve the necessary compliance with the Copenhagen political criteria. At the same time, we must continue to be vigilant with regard to the actual implementation of the measures that have been announced. This, it seems to me, is precisely the balance advocated by Mr Morillon' s report.
The strategy adopted in Helsinki last December marked a turning point in relations between the European Union and Turkey. It is within this balanced framework that we shall have to resolutely continue our work to promote rapprochement between the European Union and Turkey.
So, in conclusion, let me say: let us be demanding, let us be vigilant, let us set our terms but, let us not be excessive in our demands, as we too must live up to our commitments and the European Union made an important decision in Helsinki.
Verheugen, Commission. (DE) Mr President, I should like to close the debate by pointing out that there is, of course, a link between the Commission report on the progress that has been made, or not made, in Turkey and the accession partnership.
Several speakers have criticised the fact that the Commission failed to address certain problems. I can only assume that these speakers have not read the report, because all the problems referred to here, which the Commission allegedly failed to address, are dealt with in the report. Nor is it correct to say that the Kurdish problem was not called by its name. Where the report talks about the Kurdish language, Kurdish culture, Kurdish settlements, Kurdish parties, it calls them Kurdish. Anyone who says that the concept or the word "Kurdish" does not occur has obviously not read the report. I must defend myself against the impression created here that the terminology of the 2000 report differs from that of the 1999 report. It does not.
What is new is the accession partnership, and the accession partnership contains a very important stipulation: that the candidate country must deal with all the issues addressed in the progress report. In other words there is an internal link here. The accession partnership per se is a very balanced document, based largely on the Helsinki conclusions. Allow me to correct the erroneous impression, which one or two speakers are clearly under, that it is already a fact of life. We are at the proposal stage and I am not in a position this afternoon to tell you if this project will get beyond the proposal stage, especially if Parliament endorses proposals made here this morning and this afternoon. It is not my place to give Parliament advice or to criticise nor shall I do so. My place is simply to point out any consequences which the decision may have. If you deal with the Armenian question in connection with the EU report please read my lips: the Armenian question in connection with accession to the EU, then the project which we have discussed today will simply never get off the ground.
If the Helsinki conclusions on resolving the Cyprus question are changed along the lines called for by some speakers in the House, i.e. that accession should depend upon resolving the Cyprus question, the project will again founder. We changed precisely this last year with the backing of a large majority in the European Parliament. We have said in the past that it is not a condition and all we can demand of Turkey is for it to do its best, in all earnestness, to find a solution. However, we must never forget that it will take two sides to resolve this issue, not just one. That is why you cannot demand more of Turkey than serious, constructive, credible effort and you can only demand that a solution be found by those who have made resolving the problem their overall objective.
Finally, I feel that I should again point out that we made Turkey an offer with the Helsinki strategy. What we now need is to take the first step of the Helsinki strategy and I think it is unfair to evaluate this strategy as if it had already failed, even though the first step has yet to be taken. What we need now is to take the first step and it is your responsibility, as members of the European Parliament, to decide whether or not we can do so.
President. The debate is closed.
The vote will take place tomorrow at 11.30 a.m.