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CRAG E-Alert - 16 December 2004

Dear Friends & Supporters:

*** EU, TURKEY & MINORITIES ***

A closed seminar (strictly by invitation) that was organised by the Royal Institute of International Affairs (RIIA) took place at Chatham House on 10 December 2004. The theme was 'EU, Turkey & Minorities', and the four co-speakers of the event were Dr Kirsty Hughes, Mr Mark Lattimer, Mr Kerim Yildiz and Dr Harry Hagopian.

The legal, human rights' / minorities' rights, political and practical frameworks of Turkey's possible accession to the EU were expounded by all speakers, and the Q&A session focused on some of the hopes as well as fears associated with the process leading toward such possible accession by Turkey.

Attending the meeting were representatives of the Foreign Office, embassies, organisations and representative bodies. Invited and attending from the Armenian constituency were HG Bishop Nathan Hovhannisian (Armenian Apostolic Church), Dr Karineh Khoudaverdian (Armenian Embassy), Mrs Odette Basil (BAPPG) and Mr Raffi Sarkissian (CRAG).

Dr Harry Hagopian's presentation will soon be interpreted into an article and posted on the relevant websites as a sequel to his two previous articles. Special thanks go to Messrs Armenag Topalian & George Jerjian in England, Europe 2020 in Paris & the European Armenian Federation in Brussels for their helpful inputs.

*** EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT CALLS ON TURKEY TO EXPLICITLY RECOGNISE THE ARMENIAN GENOCIDE ***

CRAG continues to coordinate with a number of Members of the European Parliament (in the UK & Europe) as well as pan-European organisations with regard to Turkey's accession to the EU - its merits, demerits and criteria.

Today, we share herewith the two press releases from (i) the European Armenian Federation and (ii) the Assembly of Armenians of Europe on the call by the European Parliament for Turkey to recognise the Armenian Genocide.

This development follows the statement by Michel Barnier, French Foreign Minister, who suggested earlier this week that France would include the issue of the Armenian Genocide on the agenda of the accession talks.

(AA) RELEASE FROM THE EAFJD

STRASBURG, FRANCE - The European Armenian Federation for Justice and Democracy (EAFJD) today welcomed the adoption by the European Parliament of three strongly worded measures calling on Turkey to properly recognize the Armenian Genocide. These measures were actively supported by the Brussels-based Federation, which represents more than two hundred Armenian associations across Europe.

The provisions were added, on the eve of the December 17th vote of the European Council on opening European Union membership talks with Turkey, as amendments to a Parliamentary report on Turkey's progress toward accession to the European Union. This report, prepared by Camiel Eurlings (PPE/The Netherlands) was passed by a vote of 407 to 262. Significantly, the report stressed, in Paragraph 55, that, "the opening of negotiations will be the starting point for a long-lasting process [.] and does not lead 'a priori' and automatically to accession." An amendment to the report suggesting that Turkey be granted a "privileged partnership" rather than actual membership in the European Union was rejected by a secret ballot.

The Eurling Report made specific reference to Armenian issues in eight separate paragraphs, with three dealing specifically with Armenian Genocide recognition. Amendments on the Genocide were brought to the floor by four political groups (EPP, PSE,ALDE, United Left, Independence/Democracy), respectively by Mr. Toubon (EPP/France), Mr. Poignant (PSE/France) and Mrs. Carlotti (PSE/France), Mrs. De Sarnez (ALDE/France), Mr. Wurtz (United Left/France) and Mr. Belder (IND/DEM / Netherlands).

In the end, the European Parliament urged Turkey to "promote the process of reconciliation with the Armenian people by acknowledging the genocide" and called on the European Council and Commission to demand this country to "formally acknowledge the historic reality" of the Genocide.

The European Armenian Federation welcomed the adoption of the Eurling Report and the three amendments clearly articulating the European consensus that Turkey must acknowledge the Armenian Genocide. "On the eve of the European Summit, heads of state must, as they chart a course for the future, take into account the democratic will of the European electorate and our elected representatives in the European Parliament," stated Hilda Tchoboian, Chairperson of the European Armenian Federation. "This is a tremendous victory for Europeans who want to preserve European values in the face of Turkey's ongoing denial of the Genocide," she continued.

Since the European Parliament resolution of 1987, which set the recognition of the Armenian genocide as a precondition to the consideration of Turkish accession to the Union, the European Parliament has continuously restated this principled position in successive resolutions. This message was reinforced earlier this week by the French Minister of Foreign Affairs, who called on Turkey to recognize the genocide against the Armenians. "The clear consensus within European circles remains: Turkey cannot join the Union without giving up its ultra-nationalist and aggressive policy towards Armenia," explained Tchoboian. "European Armenians urge the upcoming meeting of the European Council to reflect the will of the European public, to honor this vote of the European Parliament, and to respect the European values on which the European project is based," concluded the chairperson of the European Armenian Federation.

The full text of the Armenia related paragraphs in the Eurling resolution are provided below.

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* Amendments Introduced and Adopted at the European Parliament December 15th plenary session

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Amendment 80 - Bernard Poignant, Pierre Moscovici, Marie-Arlette Carlotti, Harlem Désir, Martine Roure and others adopted by 470 against 198

EEa. whereas the Turkish authorities have likewise still not complied with the calls concerning the other Armenian issues made by Parliament in its resolution of 18 June 1987,

Amendment 18 - Francis Wurtz and Dimitrios Papadimoulis adopted by 395 against 273

34a. Calls on Turkey to promote the process of reconciliation with the Armenian people by acknowledging the genocide perpetrated against the Armenians as expressed in Parliament's earlier resolutions with regard to Turkey's candidate status (from 18 June 1987 to 1 April 2004);

Amendment 83 - Jacques Toubon and others adopted by 332 against 325

35a. Calls on the Commission and the Council to demand that the Turkish authorities formally acknowledge the historic reality of the genocide perpetrated against the Armenians in 1915 and open the border between Turkey and Armenia at an early date, in accordance with the resolutions adopted by the European Parliament between 1987 and 2004;

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** Amendments first drafted and adopted by the European Parliament Foreign Affairs Committee later approved by the European Parliament plenary session
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EE. whereas the border between Turkey and Armenia has still not been re-opened by the Turkish authorities, who have thereby missed an opportunity to promote good neighbourly relations with Armenia.

7. Welcomes in particular the reform of criminal procedure, strengthening the rights of the defence; considers however that Article 305 of the new Turkish Penal Code, which sanctions alleged "threats to fundamental national interests", and the explanatory statement of which targets freedom of expression, in particular related to the Cyprus and Armenia issues, is incompatible with the 1950 Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms; calls therefore for its repeal;

35. Believes that the Governments of Turkey and Armenia have to continue their process of reconciliation, possibly with the assistance of a bilateral committee of independent experts, in order to overcome explicitly the tragic experience of the past, and requests the Turkish Government to re-open the borders with Armenia as soon as possible.

EUROPEAN ARMENIAN FEDERATION For Justice and Democracy
Avenue de la Renaissance 10, B - 1000 BRUXELLES
Tel: +32 (0) 2 732 70 26 Tel./Fax: +32 (0) 2 732 70 27
E-mail: contact@eafjd.org Web: www.eafjd.org

PRESS RELEASE
For Immediate Release December 15th, 2004

Contact: Talline Tachdjian Tel.: +32 (0)2 732 70 27

(BB) RELEASE FROM THE AAE

On its report on "Turkey's progress towards accession" the European Parliament calls on Turkey to recognize the Armenian Genocide.

Brussels, 15/12/2004 - According to the recent information received from the European Parliament (Strasbourg), the European Parliament voted the 84 amendments to the report on "Turkey's progress towards accession" of the rapporteur Camiel Eurlings and adopted the final text of the report. Amendments regarding the recognition of the Armenian Genocide by the Republic of Turkey, the recognition of the Greek Cyprus State, the minority rights (etc) were submitted to the vote by the European Parliament during the plenary session on 15/12/2004.

The amendment 18 submitted by MEP Francis Wurtz and Dimitris Papadimoulis on behalf of the GUE/NGL group was approved by the European Parliament and will be included in the final text of the report:

"Calls on Turkey to promote the process of reconciliation with the Armenian people by acknowledging the genocide perpetrated against the Armenians as expressed in Parliament's earlier resolutions with regard to Turkey's candidate status (from 18 June 1987 to 1 April 2004).

In the same report the European Parliament calls upon Turkey to improve the situation of minority rights and protect their cultural heritage; to engage a constant dialogue with the European Parliament on women's rights in Turkey and take note in this regard of the resolution on the role of women in Turkey in social, economic and political life, etc.

Assembly of Armenians of Europe
Contact: Armine Grigoryan - Rue de Treves 10, 1050 Brussels
Tel: +32 2 647 08 01 Fax: +32 2 647 02 00

*** 90th COMMEMORATION ANNIVERSARY ***

The Committee continues its regular meetings, and a first Press Release as well as first mail-shot addressed to all Armenians in the UK that details the range of activities throughout the whole year, will go out in January 2005.

Read the data-base for future announcements from the committee.

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