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Debates
Tuesday, 14 December 1999 - Strasbourg OJ edition

4. Annex: Inauguration ceremony for the Louise Weiss Building
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  President. – Mr President of the Republic, it is my great pleasure to welcome you warmly to the European Parliament. You have agreed to inaugurate our new building in Strasbourg, thereby becoming the first European Union Head of State to speak in this new Chamber. This is only natural, since here in Strasbourg, Parliament is France's guest.

Parliament is honoured by your presence, just as it was two years ago in Brussels when King Albert II of Belgium came to inaugurate the Espace Léopold.

Forty years after its inception, the European Parliament finally has its own home in this complex of buildings spread out harmoniously on either side of the confluence of two peaceful streams, like a symbol of Europe's determination to create dialogue and union against a background of peace.

Just as European integration is a collective process, contributions to this project, which was, during the construction period, the largest public-sector building site in France, have come from many sides.

First of all, I should like to draw attention to the strong support lent by the French State, the President of the Republic and the French Government, which provided a financial guarantee, and by the prefects of the region and the département, who represented the State, and to emphasise the close attention which you yourself, Mr President of the Republic, have paid to the development of the project and the completion of the work.

I should also like to pay tribute to the authorities of the City of Strasbourg and, in particular, its Mayor, Mr Roland Ries, and his predecessor, the Minister of Culture, our former colleague, Mrs Catherine Trautmann.

Your determination has been equalled only by the love you have for your very beautiful city and your determination to consolidate and raise its international profile.

I, of course, include in this tribute Mr Pierre Pflimlin, …

(Applause)

the former Prime Minister of France, who was Mayor of Strasbourg for 24 years, and also President of our Assembly from 1984 to 1987. I salute him as one of the great driving forces behind European integration and offer him our deep respect and my affection.

(Applause)

Here, in Strasbourg, a European building site is intrinsically a matter for Alsace as a whole and I should like to stress the moral and financial support provided by the Alsace Regional Council and the Bas-Rhin General Council under the leadership of their presidents, the late Marcel Rudloff, Daniel Hoeffel, Adrien Zeller, also a former Parliament colleague, and Philippe Richter.

Naturally enough, our thanks also go out to all those directly involved in the design and building work, the developer, the architects and the thousands of engineers, technicians, workers and sub-contractors who worked so enthusiastically on the project.

Today, I have the feeling that the shortcomings and problems in connection with the functioning of this building which we quite rightly complained about in July and which have quickly been remedied are now essentially forgotten.

With Brussels, with Luxembourg, the European Parliament spreads its activities between three places of work. We accept this unusual arrangement as a legacy of history.

As regards Strasbourg, I would merely say that this place has a specific purpose, one imbued with the spirit and memory of Europe, which the Amsterdam Treaty has now set in stone.

It was Lord Ernest Bevin, the Foreign Minister of the United Kingdom, who, in 1949, almost exactly 50 years ago, was the first to suggest Strasbourg as a powerful symbol of a new Europe in which peace had been restored.

(Applause)

He urged, and I quote, that 'this great city, which has borne witness to the stupidity of the human race … should become a symbol of the unity of Europe … an ideal place in which to pursue this great project in an atmosphere of good faith, rather than domination'.

This building, which houses Parliament's Chamber, will henceforth bear the name of Louise Weiss. I am moved by the memory of this intrepid political journalist, who was born in 1893 and who, immediately after the end of the First World War, threw herself into the struggle for peace, European integration and women's suffrage.

Louise Weiss has remained the symbol of a visionary commitment to the cause of women and the cause of Europe, both of which are still highly topical. In 1979, after the first election of the European Parliament by direct universal suffrage, she was the oldest Member of our Assembly. Following the opening sitting which she chaired in that capacity, she had the joy of seeing Mrs Simone Veil, who is present here today, elected the first President of the European Parliament.

(Applause)

Today's inauguration comes at a time when the European Council in Helsinki has just taken the brave step of launching the process which will ultimately lead to the reunification of Europe as a whole within the Union, the reform of the institutions in line with that enlargement and the creation of an independent European defence organisation.

It will not be easy. However, the history of European integration, which now stretches back half a century, has consistently been marked by the efforts which have had to be made with a view to overcoming initial conflicts of interest or differences in outlook between our States and ensuring that the common interest would ultimately prevail in a spirit of solidarity. The problems which have arisen over the last few days between two of our States, however deep-seated they may be, and regardless of their human and economic implications, will not prove exceptions to this rule. I am convinced that they will succumb to this desire to reach a conclusion based on consensus.

This inauguration also comes at a time when Parliament can be said, without exaggeration, to have reached political maturity, not least as a result of the advances secured by means of the Maastricht and Amsterdam Treaties. It now enjoys full recognition both within the Union and beyond its borders. I am delighted to note the presence here today of the highest authorities of all the European institutions, and in particular the Council, of which the Presidency is currently held by Finland, and I welcome Prime Minister Lipponen, …

(Applause)

and the European Commission, led by Mr Romano Prodi, and many ministers and representatives of the Parliaments of our Member States, not to mention the Council of Europe and its European Court of Human Rights, which remains our neighbour and was for so long our host.

The task must now be to make Parliament's democratic accountability commensurate with the new powers which the States and peoples of Europe have conferred on it. Let me assure you, as the people whose presence has lent this inauguration ceremony its full European dimension, that our institution is duly mindful of this task.

May today's ceremony, which you, Mr President of the Republic, have honoured by your presence, send out a message of unity to all the citizens of the European Union on the eve of the year 2000. Without further ado, I give you the floor.

(Loud applause)

 
  
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  Chirac, President of the French Republic.(FR) Madam President, Presidents of the European institutions, Ministers, Members of Parliament, Ladies and Gentlemen. I should like to begin by thanking you personally, Madam President, for your warm and friendly welcome.

Your election last summer as President of the European Parliament came as the crowning honour of a great European career: fifteen years as an elected Member have earned you the respect of your colleagues and of all those who fight in the cause of Europe.

With your name I should like to couple that of the great figure of Louise Weiss, after whom this building is now named. She was of Alsatian origin, with German, Austrian and Czech forbears. All her life she was an advocate of Europe. Against the tides and currents of this century’s tragic history, she believed in the reconciliation of Europe and of our peoples. You may know that it was at my request, in 1979, when she was aged 86, that this indefatigable fighter for the cause of women and of Europe agreed to stand for the first time for elected office. Her commitment found its place in this House.

This inauguration, ladies and gentlemen, marks a significant date in the history of your Parliament. What a long way we have come since the first meeting in 1962 of the Joint Assembly of the European Coal and Steel Community, and since the first election of MEPs by direct universal suffrage, 20 years ago!

It was high time for the European Parliament, strengthened every day in its legitimacy and in its own role, to acquire a separate identity from the Council of Europe which has accommodated it for nearly half a century. It was both desirable and necessary that it should have its own building.

I should like to pay tribute to all those who have worked on this enormous project: the architects, the Strasbourg regional planning and construction agency (SERS), the building contractors, the technicians and the workers who have participated in this great adventure over the past four years so as to provide Europe’s representatives with a fitting forum for their debates.

I should like to thank the regional authorities, the Alsace Region, the Département of Bas-Rhin and the City of Strasbourg, who, in cooperation with the French State, have given their support to this achievement.

So often torn apart by history, in the crossfire of continental rivalries, Strasbourg today embodies the ideal of peace and democracy for our whole continent. In housing your Parliament, as well as the Council of Europe with the European Court of Human Rights, Strasbourg has become to some extent the capital of European citizenship.

Today we should think about how all Europe’s various capitals can live together within an enlarged Europe. The network of links between the seats of Europe’s institutions and with the Member States should be as dense and as uncomplicated as possible. We are aware of your concerns and you may rest assured that I shall do my best, from my position, together with the French Government, to answer them to your satisfaction.

When your Assembly moved into these premises nearly six months ago, much was said and written about the new building and the problems it encountered in its first weeks. Legitimate concerns were expressed, shared by all those, whether MEPs, administrators, officials, journalists or tourists, who worked in and visited these buildings. However, I am sure these were mere teething troubles, which probably could not have been avoided in a project of this size. They are gradually being overcome thanks to the energetic measures which you, Madam President, together with your Secretary-General, have taken since assuming office.

I am sure that everyone will soon find their feet here. Soon, I hope, no-one will express anything but admiration for this fine building which has given your Parliament a seat worthy of the task conferred upon it by the Treaties. A very important task, ladies and gentlemen, and one whose scope is continually increasing. Your institution, in which the voice of our peoples is expressed, is involved in all the debates which are going on in Europe, and this year which is now ending will undoubtedly be the year of the European Parliament.

 
  
  

The collective resignation of the Commission, last spring, following the report of the Committee of Wise Men, which this House had called for, marked the end of an era. It did away with the perception of Europe as over-technocratic and over-secretive. Your vigilant scrutiny of the use of European funds showed your determination to exercise your powers to the full. We must put an end once and for all to the idea that the European Parliament has few powers. Each successive treaty which has been concluded on the way to the present Union has increased the European Parliament’s powers and responsibilities. First of all it was given budgetary powers, then the Treaty of Maastricht gave it the status of a co-legislator, and this status was then strengthened by the entry into force of the Treaty of Amsterdam a few months ago.

With the extension of codecision there are now few areas in which you are not involved, and the citizens of Europe, who followed with interest the hearings of the candidates prior to the appointment of the new Commission, were able to see for themselves not only the importance of this House’s role, but also the impartiality and competence which each one of you brought to the process of appointing the European commissioners. I should like to pay tribute here to the volume and quality of the work which is accomplished here, in your committees, in your plenary sittings and in the Conciliation Committee involving the European Parliament and the Council, a veritable crucible in which European law is forged.

This everyday work of legislation and supervision has become an essential part of the life of our Union, but one which does not encroach on the prerogatives of the Council or the Commission, for we all wish to respect the institutional balance provided for by the Treaties. Your role will grow still further with the fresh reform of the European institutions which the Helsinki European Council has just launched – and I should like to pay tribute to the outgoing Presidency which has worked extremely hard to achieve the success of the Helsinki Summit.

(Applause)

Alongside the planned extension of qualified majority voting to cover new areas, it seems to me to be natural that your Parliament’s powers should be widened as a co-legislator in these fields. It is essential that you should make your point of view heard on this institutional reform. It is your wish, and the European Council has just adopted provisions to this effect at Helsinki. I shall ensure that they are implemented in a spirit of openness during the French Presidency of the Union, which I hope may make it possible to complete the work of the Intergovernmental Conference. I also welcome the fact, Madam President, that after the successful experiment we have seen in Helsinki, you will once again, at each European Council, be able to carry on a genuine dialogue with the Heads of State and Government rather than merely making a speech setting out Parliament’s views.

Your Assembly is an institution which is gaining in power within the Union, but too many Europeans are still ignorant of your role – as witness, alas, the low turnout at the European elections in nearly all the Member States. Let us therefore combine our efforts to ensure that the electoral system throughout Europe brings ordinary citizens closer to those who represent them in Strasbourg. Let us adopt a genuine statute for Members, respecting all this House’s prerogatives.

(Applause)

All this would help our fellow citizens identify more closely with their representatives. All this would encourage them to step up their dialogue with their European parliamentarians. You yourself, Madam President, set an example by taking every opportunity to speak in public, by tirelessly explaining your institution’s role and by showing Parliament to be a strong, determined and generous-minded body. Indeed, your enthusiasm is catching.

Ladies and gentlemen, these efforts must not be confined to raising the profile of your assembly. Everyone is aware of this. The aim must now be to win the hearts and minds of our fellow citizens by changing their very idea of Europe. Our peoples often see Europe as technocratic, distant or abstract. We are mindful of their complaints. Little publicity is given to the Treaties and European rules and regulations. The Union too often ignores citizens’ day-to-day concerns. It often imposes constraints on their lives. It does not take sufficient heed of the principle of subsidiarity, but at the same time fails to pay sufficient attention to the major scourges of our time, such as unemployment, exclusion, drugs and crime. Well, let us answer these criticisms together.

We must, of course, do more to coordinate our economic policies more effectively, consolidate our social model and create a single area of freedom, security and justice. But first of all, we must explain ever more clearly to our citizens all the benefits which the Union already offers them, all the guarantees it provides, how it protects them and improves their lives. We must explain to them in simple terms how it works. We marshalled all the resources required to do this in connection with the euro. Its appearance in the form of notes and coins will radically alter our citizens’ attitudes and habits. It will prompt them to think and act as Europeans in their everyday lives. We are preparing actively for this genuine cultural revolution and the transition to the euro has been accepted so readily by our peoples because we gave ourselves the means to explain its implications and ensure that they were understood.

We must adopt the same approach and implement a broader range of information campaigns in order to ensure that the European project as a whole, our institutions and our policies are better understood. The budget resources needed will have to be released. We will also have to mobilise the efforts of all our political leaders and you, who have been elected by universal suffrage, will have to be in the vanguard and show the way. But if we are to secure the support of all our citizens, ladies and gentlemen, we must also be capable of making the dream of Europe a reality. We must create a citizens’ Europe in which each individual gradually comes to see that he or she has a role to play. We must create a common identity which is respectful of national identities, respectful of the peoples who make up the Union, respectful of their languages and cultures. Our peoples do not wish to be swallowed up by Europe. Quite the reverse: through Europe, they want to give new meaning to their existence. We have a duty to build this great common house in which each individual nevertheless feels at home. A house in which everyone lives together, in a spirit of solidarity, but in which each individual retains his or her identity.

We shall secure that support by stressing what we hold in common: a certain concept of mankind and of its freedom, dignity and rights, a social model springing from our common history and based on a tradition of collective bargaining, protection against the ups and downs of life and a State which acts as a guarantor of social cohesion. This is why France wishes to see the European Union Charter of Fundamental Rights adopted during its Presidency. Your Parliament will play a vital part in its drafting, alongside the Member States and national parliaments. The Charter, setting out rights and obligations, will provide the framework, the references and the substance of European citizenship.

European citizenship also means a similar attachment to our own identities and histories, and a long tradition of links between our national cultures, thinkers and artists; this is a tradition which goes back to the Middle Ages and which gave us humanism – in short, everything which underpins our European civilisation. We must never forget that Europe took root in the soil of the human spirit. That is the Europe that we must nourish and encourage to grow, so as to make Europe loved, especially by our young people.

This is why France will give priority, during its Presidency, to education and knowledge, and to exchanges between universities and laboratories, so as to enable young people, students, researchers or technicians, young graduates seeking work or young workers to widen their horizons to embrace the whole of Europe. To that end, France will present to its partners an ambitious practical programme for encouraging mobility. We must help the new generations to develop their European consciousness.

Madam President, ladies and gentlemen, you are the parliamentarians who will usher Europe into the next millennium. It is you who, together with the Member States and the Commission, will prepare Europe to face the great challenges of the future. Let us beware of tracing out today the contours of a finished Europe. Europe is a project, but it is also a process. Even the boldest of the founding fathers did not imagine the euro. Let us measure with pride the road that we have travelled, and reflect together on our ambitions for tomorrow.

Our history, together with the Renaissance, makes this incumbent upon us; over five centuries Europe developed a dazzling civilisation, and then the shock of excessive nationalism and the radical negation of our values led our continent, and the world, into two dreadful wars which broke Europe and destroyed it. For 50 years, we have doggedly and successfully been creating the conditions for a new European renaissance. Europeans must now learn to reconcile their history and their geography. For 40 years the European Union had no need to determine its frontiers: they were imposed on it by the Warsaw Pact's tanks along the Iron Curtain.

By opening up to 13 candidate countries which will later be joined, I hope, by those of the western Balkans, the Union is affirming its mission to gather together the whole European family. This is highly ambitious. I would ask those who criticise Europe's leaders for sometimes lacking courage and ambition to reflect for a few minutes on the challenge constituted by the gradual, vital integration into the European Union of some 200 million men and women from around 20 countries.

Before it opens its doors, the European Union will have to reform its institutions. The work that we embarked upon in Helsinki is necessary, but we already know that it is just a stage. We will have to give much greater thought to the long-term consequences of these enlargements. This constitutes a major challenge. How can we nourish a community of peoples who are so different, not only in terms of their standards of living, but also in their experiences of European integration? How can we do this while at the same time pursuing the vital deepening of our common policies? Should we not contemplate implementing our advances more flexibly, as we have already done with Schengen and the euro?

The Europe which is both widening and deepening must gradually take on its full responsibilities on the world scene. Europeans want this, as the tragedy in Kosovo has shown. They want a strong Europe, a Europe which is capable of contributing fully to building a prosperous, peaceful world, and a Europe which claims its place as a major force in the world. The European Union is already the world's leading economic and trade power. It has equipped itself with the euro, the second major currency alongside the dollar. It signalled its cohesion, its determination and its ability to defend its interests and its model, and to do so with a single voice, at the WTO talks in Seattle. The European Union must now affirm that capacity in the sphere of foreign policy and defence.

 
  
  

The Helsinki European Council achieved a major step forward and others will no doubt follow over the coming year. This strengthening of Europe and the perception which our major partners have of it will help to clarify the image which our fellow citizens have of Europe and themselves.

Ladies and gentlemen, these are the tasks facing us, the political leaders and elected representatives of the Union. Next year, taking over from Portugal, France will have the honour and the responsibility of holding the Union Presidency and leading Europe to the threshold of the third millennium. Its priorities are the same, I know, as those of this House: a Europe of citizens, knowledge and innovation, the Charter of Fundamental Rights, reform of the institutions and enlargement, European defence. Rest assured that my country is determined that you should play a full part in the work and discussions which mark its Presidency.

In exactly one year’s time I shall return to this Chamber to assess with you the six months of that Presidency. We will measure the progress made. I am convinced that together, sharing the same vision of Europe and pursuing the same ambitions for the Union, we will have enabled it to take further steps forward. We will have improved its effectiveness, enhanced its spirit of solidarity and strengthened its identity. In short, we will have brought our peoples closer together. This is the way Europe progresses: faster and further than anyone predicts. I am sure that the 21st century will see a humanist and prosperous, powerful and peaceful Europe confirmed among the leaders on the world scene. Yes, the 21st century must be and will be that of a European renaissance.

(Very loud applause)

 
  
  

IN THE CHAIR: MR VIDAL-QUADRAS ROCA
Vice-President(1)

 
  
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  Schroedter (Greens/ALE).(DE) Mr President, I am glad that at least Mr Patten is here to follow this important debate, because there are urgent matters which require discussion. The Council has at last joined the flock and declared sanctions on Russia. But given the length of time the war has already been waging in the Caucasus, this decision is, of course, far too late to bring any real solution to the conflict. Given the massive expulsion of the civil population, it is far too weak a measure.

We have to imagine what is happening over there. Ingushetia currently has more refugees than the indigenous population, with no humanitarian aid to compare with Kosovo. Kosovo had humanitarian aid, here there is nothing. That is the situation. Which is why the Partnership and Cooperation Agreement must be suspended immediately. Russia must be excluded from the G8 Summit and its government must not receive any more credit until a peaceful solution to the conflict has been found.

Exactly what sort of a foreign policy do we have at the moment? It is true that military forces are being planned, but a decision on an early end to the crisis has been delayed for weeks. Europe must not just be the Europe of oil multinationals; it must also become the Europe of human rights, which is why we in the Group of the Greens/European Free Alliance are calling for a conference on the Caucasus in collaboration with the OSCE so that a contribution to peace in this region can finally be made. We shall continue discussions with human rights representatives from Chechnya, including discussions of projects. I hope that the Commission will give proper support in this matter by making a contribution to peace and prevention in the region, because that is far more important than the military forces decided on in Helsinki.

 
  
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  Alyssandrakis (GUE/NGL).(EL) Mr President, Commissioner, the Council has taken a significant step towards the militarisation of the European Union with its decision to develop the military crisis management corps. The European Union has shown just how well it understands these crises by contributing to the disintegration of Yugoslavia, particularly with its barbarous and murderous attacks on the Yugoslav people. It has shown its understanding by taking part in the occupation of Kosovo and in its continuing efforts to overturn the democratically-elected Yugoslav leadership.

The Council has decided to curtail democracy still further by abolishing the unanimity rule, even on extremely important issues. The decision to extend candidate status to Turkey is, without a doubt, a political gesture towards the Turkish regime, despite the fact that it has made no move whatsoever towards fulfilling the conditions set by the European Union itself. The Council is encouraging Turkey to continue with its violations of human rights, its genocide of the Kurdish people, its occupation of 38% of Cypriot territory and its territorial claims in the Aegean. At the same time, it is thwarting the struggle of the Turkish people, for whom we feel solidarity.

The decisions in Helsinki illustrate quite clearly that behind the show of democracy and behind the lofty words on human rights lurk the creeping fascism of imperialist interests and violence against anybody who resists the new order of things. However, the people of Europe are gradually overcoming their torpor following the overthrow of socialism in Europe and are preparing for a counter-attack.

 
  
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  Salafranca Sánchez-Neyra (PPE-DE).(ES) Mr President, I think that what took place in Helsinki can be interpreted in a number of very different ways. For example, in the field of enlargement, some will be pleased that Turkey has been granted applicant status and others will not be so pleased. But it surely cannot be denied that the Presidency-in-Office of the Council has made significant advances in the field of common foreign and security policy by reorganising the duties of the Council, by clearly promoting non-military crisis management, by adopting a common strategy with regard to Ukraine and also by approving a statement on Chechnya, although we would have liked it to have been a little more forceful and I believe that in time we will be proved right.

Nevertheless, it must be said that, from the point of view of the institutions and the Intergovernmental Conference, the results are nothing to boast about and they prompt us to adopt one of two possible attitudes. The first, clearly, is, as we say in my language, “to cry over spilt milk”, whilst the second – somewhat more realistic – would be to take advantage of the opportunities offered by the Summit statement and to try to persevere in our objectives.

I would take this approach and, to this end, I think that we should try to re-establish that amicable partnership between the Commission and Parliament, who were unable to secure acceptance of their views at the Helsinki Summit.

I really believe that this Parliament, with the assistance of a slightly bolder and more ambitious Commission and, (to be frank), one which is a little more committed to reforming the institutions, could ensure that the misunderstandings of the past give way to more harmonious relations in the future and that we will all be able to promote the reform of the European Union, knowing, as we do, that if we ignore the concerns of the general public, these reforms will never come about and will never be a success.

 
  
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  Papayannakis (GUE/NGL).(EL) Mr President, the logical starting point for the key decisions by the European Council was enlargement. So what did the Council do? It completely overturned the enlargement doctrine applied hitherto. Now, we no longer have teams of candidates one after the other but just one race for all the candidate countries together, with Turkey as a candidate country now included.

My group, the Coalition, and I personally feel that, in principle, this is a change for the better. Nevertheless, both the Commission and the Council must remember that relations with Turkey are now Euro-Turkish relations and not Graeco-Turkish relations, as they have either hypocritically or maladroitly maintained in the past. I would also point out, Mr President, that as the Union’s borders are expanding, a large black hole is forming in the Balkans. This black hole includes both Serbia and many other countries and is right at the heart of the new geographical area you are building. Is this political short-sightedness or pure vindictiveness? I, for one, do not know.

Finally, yet another intergovernmental conference and reform of the Treaty have been announced to address the issue of enlargement. Yet another reform, yet another intergovernmental conference, with no Community approach, no role for the Commission and a meaningless role for Parliament, with no consultation with national parliaments and, finally, with no transparency and no accountability towards the civil society. Is this how we are to increase the prestige and appeal of European unification? Have the Heads of State and Government and the Community bodies not learned anything from Seattle?

 
  
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  Ludford (ELDR). – Mr President, the Summit was indeed historic, especially regarding defence and enlargement, if not the IGC. The Union is at last facing up to challenges to security in Europe. I should like to refer in particular to Turkey. I now accept that making Turkey a formal candidate will help speed up an improvement in Turkey's record on democracy and human rights, concern about which reflects not hostility towards Turkey but attachment to its future in Europe.

Turkish failure to recognise the rights of the Kurds is the biggest single reason for its breaches of European democratic and human rights norms and the pretext for its military-dominated state. So it is astonishing that neither the OSCE Summit declaration nor the Helsinki conclusions make any reference to the Kurds.

Turkey cannot meet European values or ensure security while it denies the different identity of its Kurdish citizens. I welcome signals that Abdullah Öçalan's death sentence may be lifted; but the EU must make clear that if he is executed, accession negotiations cannot proceed. We must insist the Turkish authorities respond to the PKK cease-fire and make moves to political settlement, recognising Kurdish cultural and democratic rights.

Finally, the UK Government must not give export credit funding to the Ilisu dam, which threatens to be a human rights disaster for the Kurds as well as an ecological disaster.

 
  
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  Van den Bos (ELDR).(NL) Mr President, the European Summit was less of a success than has been suggested here this morning. The decisions on enlargement, the intervention force and Turkey’s application for EU membership are positive, but the words used to describe the IGC conceal a great lack of political will. The agenda is still open in theory, but there is nothing to suggest that the governments really want fundamental change. On the contrary, so far none of the Commission or Parliament proposals have been followed up. I would very much like the Finnish Presidency to explain why this is so.

It is essential for there to be general majority decision making and increased cooperation. The lack of political will to make this unequivocal choice will paralyse the decision-making process as soon as Europe undergoes enlargement. Those who block fundamental reform want to keep Europe small, even though they might claim otherwise.

 
  
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  MacCormick (Greens/ALE). – Mr President, the Helsinki Summit took account of the proposal for a charter of rights. Today President Chirac made clear his view that an enlarged Europe must be built around respect for rights. We agree with that, but we insist that a democratic European Union must be built on the rule of law as an equal partner with a charter of rights. My SNP colleague Mr Hudghton and I did not join in the discourteous and petulant walk-out from President Chirac's speech this morning. As a result, Mr Hudghton was able to put to President Chirac our point of view and get an undertaking for a possible reply to a letter we sent yesterday.

Another issue alive is that of enlarging the Union. We share enthusiasm for enlargement provided proper institutional reform goes ahead. It should, however, be remembered that there are not only nations in Eastern and Central Europe seeking entry, there are ancient nations in Western Europe too, represented here by the European Free Alliance, which seek fair recognition as members in Europe. Our claims deserve better than an embarrassed silence that contrasts with the welcome others receive. Reform of the institutions must create space for due recognition of existing regions and unrepresented nations.

We used to hear a lot about the Europe of the regions, a phrase less in use nowadays than a few years ago. Not only did the Helsinki Council make paltry progress toward curing Europe's democratic deficit, but it did nothing at all about what ought to be recognised as a regional deficit. Our task in the European Free Alliance is to get it recognised and cured with the help of our colleagues in the Greens/European Free Alliance.

 
  
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  Thors (ELDR).(SV) Mr President, Commissioner, unfortunately there are no ministers here! I should like to describe the Summit in maritime terms. The launch was a great success when it came to the major projects which were got under way. There was no friction in the launch. But even though the launch has been successful, it is not known whether the ship is seaworthy and whether it will survive the storms to which it is exposed. I am thinking especially here of the enlargement of the European Union. How will this succeed? In the Summit’s conclusions, clear reservations are expressed about the applicant countries to the effect that several of them do not even fulfil the Copenhagen criteria in the medium to long term and that, in March, an assessment should be made of how the economic criteria are being fulfilled.

I think it is important for the future of the enlargement that we look to how the applicant countries achieve good administration and combat corruption and whether they have stable institutions. The most important thing is not therefore that we should go through the acquis communautaire in detail. You see, it is not doing this which will decide whether the Union can be enlarged and whether the applicant countries are ready to enter the EU. Rather, it is the answers to the basic questions I have just listed. We really need a different approach to that which was adopted during the last enlargement when Sweden, Finland and Austria became members.

 
  
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  Dimitrakopoulos (PPE-DE).(EL) Mr President, in my view, the problems and issues to be addressed following the Helsinki Summit fall into two basic entities. The first is the forthcoming Intergovernmental Conference and it is particularly sad that, following the Helsinki Summit and following the extensive debates held here in the European Parliament, the Presidency conclusions concerning the Intergovernmental Conference are so brief. Perhaps they are not quite as brief as we had feared but they are much briefer than what we consider necessary for the European Union to prepare itself sufficiently for the passage from the 20th to the 21st century.

Mr President, it is clear that, this time more than ever, the Intergovernmental Conference and the review of the founding Treaties of the European Union are directly related to another important European Union decision: enlargement. And since the European Union is about to take on board a large number of States – 13 in total – it would make sense to begin preparations to receive these States.

The question which arises from the Presidency conclusions is whether or not the commitments, yes the commitments, and the opinions in those conclusions allow the European Union to prepare itself to receive these new States. I am afraid the answer is no. In a number of resolutions, the European Parliament has already indicated how extensive these changes and reforms of the Treaties would have to be. And the European Parliament will, of course, continue to indicate the way forward given that, as I said before, the decisions of the Helsinki Summit on the Intergovernmental Conference are clearly, and unfortunately, far too limited in scope. There was no mention of the direction the European Union should be taking nor of the vision it should have. There was no mention of the approach it should be adopting. There was no mention of a number of new issues which are, if you like, the main goals and problems facing us in the 21st century.

As for enlargement, which is clearly a very important process and one which must be continued, integrated and completed, a new candidate country is now involved in this process: Turkey. At this point in time, Turkey has been granted a new status, that of a candidate country. However, at the same time, a number of conditions have been laid down which Turkey must fulfil before it can become a member of the European Union. It is important that these conditions be fulfilled. It is important that Turkey shows, in its desire to become a member of the European family, that it really does respect human rights, democracy and its neighbouring countries and that it truly wishes to find a calm and peaceful solution to any issues or problems which exist in relation to it.

 
  
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  Wiersma (PSE).(NL) Mr President, the President-in-Office of the Council has given scant attention to the OSCE Summit Conference that was held recently, this morning. Other Helsinki matters took precedence. The OSCE has to operate in the shadow of the EU and NATO, which have a much higher public profile. The most important person to take the floor – in inverted commas – during the Istanbul Summit was President Yeltsin, who came to explain his policy towards Chechnya. This explanation was unsatisfactory, it is true, but the Russians appear to regard the OSCE as the only organisation in Europe that they should give account to and which should be given access to the region. In point of fact, the President of the OSCE has gone to Chechnya today. The Russians obviously feel that they have equal standing there. NATO is unpopular in Russia, which means that the Partnership for Peace Programme is too.

Opinion polls would suggest that the majority of Russians do have respect for the EU though. That will probably change after Helsinki. The OSCE is based on certain principles that were expanded on in Istanbul. In some internal conflicts and where there are grave violations of human rights, the OSCE can and may take action before actual violence breaks out. On this basis the OSCE can start playing a more wide-ranging role as a non-exclusive and civil pan-European organisation, also as a forum for open dialogue with Russia. The OSCE affords a preventative instrument that can be employed where there is the potential for crisis. The High Commissioner has carried out a great deal of good work for minorities, the OSCE is mediating between government and opposition in Belarus and is helping to find a solution to the problems in Moldavia. The OSCE is also encouraging further reductions in conventional weapons. The EU ought to pay more attention to OSCE values. Together we can achieve a great deal.

Chechnya is an example of a conflict that could spread to the whole Caucasus region. I believe we are failing to give this enough attention. The European Union’s policy with respect to the countries in this region is fragmented. Why does the EU not use the OSCE in order to achieve a stability pact for the Caucasus with these countries, the Russian Federation, the United States and Turkey? If another war breaks out there we must not be able to reproach ourselves for yet again having been too late.

 
  
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  Menrad (PPE-DE).(DE) Mr President, hardworking Finnish diplomacy has also endeavoured over the last six months to make progress on the employment and social side of the Community. The creation of an Employment Committee increases the potential for Member States to improve coordination between their policies in this area. On behalf of the PPE-DE Group, I welcome the fact that the presidency has prepared proper employment guidelines for 2000 at various councils of ministers and ministerial conferences. Nonetheless, several national governments and the Council have not come fully on board.

As a result, only a small proportion of Parliament’s proposals on the guidelines was adopted in Helsinki. Parliament wanted to achieve more in the fight against unemployment among the young and long-term unemployment than the Council was proposing; above all, we wanted to achieve permanent integration into the job market by reinforcing the ratio of active to passive measures, in other words, by increasing the proportion of the unemployed in training, further training or retraining, because a lack of jobs is only one side of the coin. The other reason for unemployment in the European Union is the lack of professional qualifications.

I should like to thank the Finnish Presidency for helping to improve the coordination of European employment policy. But the Community still has no long-term employment strategy to develop Community potential in terms of creativity, innovation, entrepreneurship, the willingness to invest and the work ethic. Reforms to bolster dynamic competitiveness and flexibility need to be reconciled with the need both to maintain and to modernise the social security system. We see the European model as a social order for the social market economy.

 
  
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  Katiforis (PSE).(EL) Mr President, the economic factor has always taken precedence in the building of Europe. Without a doubt, its greatest achievements are the single currency and the creation of the European Central Bank.

Aside from their strictly economic significance, which is huge, these institutions are positive proof to the people that the creation of new Community institutions, entrusted with exercising integrated policies in place of the governments or the national bodies of the Member States, is not a betrayal but a more efficient way of jointly exercising national sovereignty. The lesson learned from the single currency gives us an invaluable weapon for deepening our institutions further, which is essential if we wish to promote enlargement of the Union without endangering its cohesion.

These new and necessary institutional developments or completely new institutions, such as the particularly important military corps that has just been decided on, could lead to dilemmas as to how to divide power between national and Community authorities. But let us not forget the message of EMU: Community institutions are only successful when the principle of subsidiarity is applied and when the power of the larger partners is counterbalanced by protecting the rights of the smaller partners. All this is arming us for the unusually ambitious enlargement process. It is not about patching together new pieces of territory, it is about assimilation and transformation under the influence of a Union of truly integrated human societies.

It took a great deal of courage on the part of the Turkish Government to accept the challenge of becoming a candidate country, as a result of which huge social changes are inevitable and will certainly include satisfactory restoration of the rights of the Kurdish nation. It also took a great deal of courage on the part of the Greek Government and of Prime Minister Costas Simitis to bet on the success of this change, to trust in the possibility of a good outcome and to put out its hand to Turkey and agree to do business with it just as it does business with its European partners, the members of the Union. Undoubtedly, the fact that Cyprus has been guaranteed unimpeded accession played a large part in the Greek Government’s decision. All this gives us hope that a new chapter was opened in Helsinki and that this new chapter will be crowned with success.

 
  
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  Oostlander (PPE-DE).(NL) Mr President, needless to say, I am extremely pleased that the Council has confirmed the viewpoint which was also posited by the Commission, namely that the enlargement of the European Union will be a process in which all Central European countries which have applied for membership will be involved without any discrimination and on the basis of their own merits. I am pleased that the old biased approach is no longer being pursued. Although we used to be a European economic community, we now realise that the essence of our alliance is that we are a union of democratic constitutional States. This is a significant change in our way of thinking and reverts back to the original ideals of European integration. I think it is important that the Central and Eastern European countries should know that they are joining a smoothly-running Union. This is why it is so vital that we do our homework and that we cannot get out of it by some excuse like: are we not holding the candidate countries hostage to our reforms? Formulated in this way, it is viewed in completely the wrong manner because those who wish to offer the Central and Eastern European countries a heap of rubble generally tend to object to European integration.

Mr President, Turkey needs a great deal more attention and I am willing to allow for that. It has now been granted official candidate status. We have noted this with little enthusiasm. It appears that it is difficult to change Turkey’s political culture. The Turkish Government has already stipulated demands before Turkey can accept its Member State candidacy. This is the culture of brute force, the culture of the big mouth and not the type of culture that we want. Not from a Member State and certainly not from a candidate country.

In our opinion, the European Union should also make it very clear to Turkey that the treatment it will receive will certainly not be more flexible than that of Slovakia, for example, where the change-over from one government to another was, in fact, a great deal more relaxed. Turkey will have no choice but to make drastic changes and make steps towards the European Union. There is as yet no evidence of such steps being made. The European Union should not make the same mistake as the Council of Europe which accepted Turkey some time ago whilst Turkey blatantly contravened the criteria to become a member of the Council of Europe, such as the criteria relating to the protection of minorities and human rights.

Mr President, although it is said that Turkey falls outside the EU borders, in my view, the borders of the European Union coincide with those where democratic constitutional states exist. It is not so much a new territorial Yalta as an underlining of every effort to bolster the constitutional state.

 
  
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  Schori (PSE).(SV) Mr President, enlargement is the single most important factor for Europe’s stability and welfare. The best way of building sustainable security is by creating a web of mutual dependency among peoples and nations to the benefit of all, just as the European Union has done. In addition to providing a breakthrough for the new enlargement strategy, the Helsinki Summit has also given necessary concrete form to the common foreign and security policy. Kosovo has taught us that, in extreme situations, we must be able to intervene, be able to intervene in time and be able to intervene with credibility. It is good that we should now be building up such a capability.

Now, we Social Democrats are expecting the Council and the Commission, together with Commissioner Patten, to foster the same creativity, energy and resolution in the actual prevention of crises, too. It is, in spite of everything, better – much better – that we should have the ability to prevent conflicts than that we should be forced to intervene after a conflict has arisen. I should prefer to liken the European Union’s role to that of the head of a fire brigade, responsible for preventing fires, rather than to that of a fireman turning out to fight fires that have already started.

The brutality of the Russian campaign in Chechnya shows that we have a long way to go before achieving a peaceful order in Europe. The Summit was gratifyingly clear in what it had to say. Both stringency and foresight were expressed: stringency in condemning the atrocities and also in considering limiting strategic aid to Russia and converting portions of the TACIS aid into humanitarian aid; and foresight in deciding to maintain dialogue with Moscow and long-term cooperation with Russia. Russia is needed in Europe. We shall never have security in Europe without democracy and prosperity in Russia. However, Russia also needs Europe. Following the enlargement of the European Union, more than half of Russia’s trade will be with the EU. It now already has its most important export ports in the vicinity of the EU, namely in the Baltic.

The decision to accord applicant status to Turkey is welcomed by the Group of the Party of European Socialists. In this context, the Greek Government deserves great praise for its wisdom and strength of principle. We have now all obtained guarantees to the effect that border conflicts are to be solved by peaceful means and, if need be, by means of international arbitration. Nor has Cyprus’s applicant status suffered. The most important message is presumably that we can now say to Turkey that it may become an applicant for membership of the European Union on certain clear conditions. In other words, there is no impenetrable Berlin Wall beside the Bosphorus. Now, it is up to Turkey to demonstrate its European vocation through its actions. We now want to see concrete progress, above all when it comes to full citizens’ rights for the Kurdish minority.

 
  
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  Maij-Weggen (PPE-DE).(NL) Mr President, I share the general dissatisfaction of many Members in this Parliament regarding the outcome of Helsinki. I would particularly like to comment on the IGC, the charter and the venue.

With regard to the IGC, Helsinki has only really decided to deal with the three leftovers. Fortunately, the door was also left open for additional items on the agenda. Concerning the third leftover, I would very specifically like to state that if it is to be decided to take more majority decisions, then this should obviously be done in line with this Parliament’s co-legislative power. Otherwise it does not make a great deal of sense. This is one of the key criteria which Parliament will apply to assess whether this component has been a success.

A second point I would like to raise is that this has, of course, already been outlined to some extent and lifted to European level, but the Community measures necessary in this respect have not been taken at all. Quite the reverse, Mr Solana appears mainly to represent the Council and hardly seems to associate himself with the Commission and even less so with this Parliament. I think that it is vital that we at least endeavour to bring some aspects of these new policies within the scope of Community decision making and legislation.

I would also like to say a few words about the charter. This has not been mentioned as far as I am aware but surely I can assume that the charter, the Charter of Fundamental Rights, will also form part of the Treaties. Otherwise these will also be empty words.

Finally, Mr President, the majority of the Dutch delegation did not attend the official inauguration of this building this morning. We did this for a specific reason because we feel that the decision taken in Amsterdam to force us to come and meet here twelve times a year is wrong. We feel that the European Parliament needs one venue, where it must be possible to work efficiently. With all due respect for Strasbourg, we feel that this would benefit efficiency. As far as we are concerned, the new Treaty should revise this section in that Treaty. At the moment, EUR 120 million is wasted annually on travelling up and down, but, more than anything, a lot of time is wasted by the MEPs. We do not have enough time to do a good job here. I feel that having these two venues was the wrong decision taken at Amsterdam, which should be rectified by the Paris Treaty. This is why we were not present this morning.

 
  
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  Swoboda (PSE).(DE) Mr President, Commissioner. I am most glad to see Commissioner Patten here today because we were in Turkey a few days ago as the official Parliament delegation. His interview in Der Spiegel caused a furore. Perhaps as the result less of what he said than of what Der Spiegel added. Since meeting him for the first time in Hong Kong, I have held Commissioner Patten in the highest regard on account of his open, unconventional approach. However, I feel that perhaps a few matters need to be cleared up.

Firstly, I am most grateful to the Commission for preparing the Summit, the outcome of which showed that it had made a clear statement and had not dodged the issue. Turkey is a candidate. As far as I am concerned, that means quite unequivocally that Turkey has to start behaving like a candidate; in other words, the necessary changes must be made. As Mr Oostlander said, Europe stops where human rights violations begin; at least, I know what he meant. I also trust that human rights are accepted outside Europe. But the reverse is of course true. A country can only belong to the Europe of the European Union if it accepts human rights. No other way forward is possible.

Our task is to prepare, support and help Turkey along this path. But we at least made clear in our discussions with all the party chairmen and other politicians in Turkey that Turkey has to do the work. These changes are in Turkey’s own interest. They want and hopefully they will be able to function better, more quickly and more comprehensively with Europe. But we cannot do the work for Turkey.

I believe that the Commission should now draw up specific annual programmes – I hope with maximum input from Parliament – containing indications as to how Turkey can set about this work and how we can help. Turkey must state clearly that it intends to abolish the death penalty next year or in two years’ time and that it intends to release its political prisoners over this period and deal with the Kurdish question during this period. The fact is that Turkey has only acknowledged in discussions over recent weeks and months that there even is a Kurdish question. How it intends to solve this problem, it does not yet know, that is not yet understood. But I believe that there has already been a great deal of progress.

The Helsinki Summit, at which Greece above all behaved in an exemplary manner and at which, in the end, Turkey too behaved in a reasonable manner, went very well on this question but the work is not yet finished. In fact it has only just begun. The best decision to come out of Helsinki is that we are now able to start work.

(Applause)

 
  
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  Posselt (PPE-DE).(DE) Mr President, today is a great day for Strasbourg. I would disagree with Mrs Maij-Weggen. I believe that Strasbourg is the independent and parliamentary face of a cultural Europe which has freed itself from bureaucracy and, in this respect, I am very happy about events here today. We could put an end to the travelling circus without changing the Treaty, by doing away with the superfluous mini plenary sittings in Brussels. We can do so quite independently. We would start saving money almost immediately. I invite Mrs Maij-Weggen to support me in this.

As far as the Council is concerned, I take the view that Helsinki was a Summit of peaks and troughs. One peak was, without a doubt, the clear signal to the second group of central and eastern European countries that they were no longer isolated and that negotiations would be started with them. I welcome this in particular in the case of Slovakia and the Baltic States.

However, the decision on Chechnya was also extremely important. Parliament demanded quite clearly two and a half months ago that the Council suspend parts of the Trade and Cooperation Agreement and transfer financial aid and the TACIS programme to humanitarian assistance in order to bring home to Russia that it can no longer continue this genocide. We were opposed at the time in no uncertain terms. I am very glad that the Council is now living up to the standard which we in Parliament tried to set two and a half months ago.

I would ask the Council and the Commission to ensure that TACIS aid is transferred at once, because we can no longer back a mixture of bloodthirsty election campaigning and bloodthirsty colonial war. We want Russia as a partner, but only as a partner which respects human rights. This Parliament stands for a Europe of human rights, as Mr Oostlander said. Russia can only be a partner if it ceases this genocide immediately.

 
  
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  Brok (PPE-DE).(DE) Mr President, measures and other resolutions on enlargement, on security and defence policy and on the convening of an intergovernmental conference were taken in Helsinki.

All three together may have an historic dimension; however, they may also jeopardise the political project called Europe if we fail to answer the question of where overstretching may mark the end of political union and when the incapacity to act cannot be rectified. It is precisely for this reason that the intergovernmental conference is so important because only if it demonstrates that it has the power to act and is transparent and democratic in the eyes of the people will it be possible to overcome both the danger of overstretching as the result of enlargement and the incapacity to act.

In my view, it is for this reason that the intergovernmental conference stands at the apex of the enlargement, intergovernmental conference, foreign and security policy triangle, whereby it must be made perfectly clear that at no stage, be it with 12 or with 13 candidate States, can the Copenhagen criteria be watered down and that this Parliament will not permit any such watering down and will not ratify any such treaties.

I believe that the more the Union is reinforced at the intergovernmental conference, the quicker enlargement will be possible. But, at the same time, this means that the stronger the European Union is made, the more candidate countries must consider if they are prepared to accept the concomitant waiver of sovereignty.

This aspect must also be stressed in connection with Turkey. Allow me to make one last comment. Excellent progress has been made with the foreign and security policy. But for me, one thing is missing; namely both the real involvement of the High Representative in the decision-making structures of the fora and the involvement of the Commission and the External Relations Commissioner in these structures. These matters have already been raised in the run up. We must ensure that this functions in practice, otherwise we will have a new intergovernmental event which has nothing new to offer and which only gives rise to new headlines because something is not quite right. Parliament must ensure that this is put in order.

 
  
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  Seguro (PSE).(PT) Mr President, I shall make three very straightforward points. The first concerns the European Parliament’s relationship to this forthcoming Intergovernmental Conference and its role therein. Progress has certainly been made by comparison with the previous Intergovernmental Conference, but the most worrying aspect is that the Council had on the table a proposal which would give the European Parliament a greater role, a proposal which would grant it a role similar to the one the Commission will have in these negotiations, and it did not approve this proposal. As we know, this is the fundamental problem, because it concerns the very nature of the European Parliament. This is not a parliament that functions within the normal constitutional systems of our countries.

It is worth stating here though that we do not accept that the European Parliament should be given a lesser role in a discussion process as important as such a large-scale revision of the Treaty on European Union. We consider it vital that there should be two representatives of the European Parliament in the preparatory group but we feel that it is less fitting for the European Parliament that the President of the European Parliament, instead of dealing directly with Heads of State and Governments, should be put into a situation in which she is heard before the meetings of the General Affairs Council Ministers. This is not treatment befitting the European Parliament.

The second issue concerns the content, and we have had occasion to say this in the Brussels mini-session. The Commission has shown great ambition where enlargement is concerned and little or no ambition in the revision of the Treaty. We have the Amsterdam leftovers, we have the Treaty’s implications for defence issues and possibly, for the Charter of Fundamental Rights, although this is an open door – or rather an open window – through which the Portuguese Presidency must perform a miracle. I would say that it is a miracle that could not be performed after Amsterdam. And this is what concerns us. If only the leftovers from Amsterdam remain, the discussion will be about efficiency and not about the European Union project. The discussion could be about political manoeuvring and could lead to rule by a board of management. From this point of view, the Commission has a crucial role in ensuring that the agenda of the IGC is not dictated by the lowest common denominator of each State’s interests, but rather that it has a global vision of the European Union project. This is why the Commission cannot abdicate its responsibilities and must present specific proposals to this effect.

Finally, Mr President, I would like to highlight two issues concerning the forthcoming Portuguese Presidency: the Summit on employment, which I consider to be very important and which should have been studied more carefully by this House, and the fact that priority should be given to the protection of public health and food safety. Finally, I have a question for the Council, although I am not sure if it is represented here today, Mr President, to answer this question: what is the future of the Euro-African Summit scheduled for the next six-month term?

 
  
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  Langen (PPE-DE).(DE) Mr President, the presidency has set out two propositions in the Helsinki conclusions, namely that an efficient and credible enlargement process must be sustained and that applicant countries are participating in the accession process on an equal footing. When this is set against the fact that candidate status has been granted to Turkey and the simultaneous statement that there will be a conference in the spring of 2000, in which Turkey will not take part, then it is clear that this candidate status has been granted prematurely and is a blank cheque which will come bouncing back. Even the improvements within Turkey noted by the Commission and the Council presidency must be subject to cautious appraisal when you think about the death penalty being upheld for Mr Öçalan, the fact that the Sakharov prize-winner Leyla Zana is still in prison because she stood up for her right to freedom of speech, the fact that the Kurdish question has not been resolved and all the other aspects of this document in connection with progress in Turkey. Discussions on stage and in the wings clearly show that Europe is not being frank when it comes to Turkey.

The Helsinki conclusions are extremely positive in other areas, such as foreign and security policy and defence policy; but when it comes to Turkey’s membership, they are contradictory in the extreme. There is a danger that far too much is being expected of Europe as regards this part of the enlargement process and that too much is being expected of Turkey itself.

Anyone who wants to be a member must be prepared to become a member on our terms. I read that Mr Ecevit stressed at the conference that Turkey had a fundamental right to membership of the European Union. I consider that a very risky statement. I am not sure that the political classes in Turkey have any idea of what is in store for them when they have to waive sovereign rights.

We therefore consider that this decision by the Summit was rushed and inappropriate. If you read the conditions, which state that negotiations with Turkey will still not begin and that Turkey will just have candidate status, i.e. no separate legal instrument has been opened, then this means – as it says here – that the UNO must endeavour to settle disputes, which should be settled by 2004 on the basis of UNO resolutions. These are all things which, in our view, do not justify giving Turkey candidate status at this point in time.

Once Turkey joins, Europe will have to undergo a radical change of face and objectives. Mr Prodi himself said that we must urgently discuss values and borders. For us, an independent approach is the best alternative: security partnership, further development of customs union and permanent political dialogue, rather than announcing candidate status which, in the final analysis, is worth nothing and is more likely to create than to solve problems.

 
  
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  President. – I have received 14 motions for resolutions, in accordance with Rule 37(2), to close this debate.(2)

The debate is closed.

The vote will take place tomorrow at 12.00 p.m. and on Thursday at 12.00 p.m.

 
  

(1) Approval of Minutes: see Minutes.
(2) See Minutes.

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