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Wednesday, 15 March 2006 - Strasbourg OJ edition

2005 enlargement strategy paper (debate)

  Philip Claeys (NI). – (NL) Mr President, I should like to draw your attention to a few imperfections and contradictions in the report on Turkey. The report lists such a catalogue of fundamental problems that it is puzzling why people fail to draw the only logical conclusion, which is that it was a fatal mistake to start negotiations about Turkey’s accession to the European Union in the first place.

As Mr Belder explained in detail a moment ago, there are violations of the rights of national and religious minorities. Torture is still rife, and based on Article 301 of the criminal law among others, the free expression of opinion and freedom of the press cannot be guaranteed. Also, Turkey blatantly fails to meet its obligations in connection with the customs union. Cypriot ships and aircraft are still not admitted to Turkey’s territory.

Over the past weeks, we have also noticed tension escalating between the Turkish authorities and certain Kurdish groups. No one other than the second-in-command of Turkey’s army is being accused of having stage-managed a bomb attack with a view to blaming the Kurds. Some of the military see this indictment as a ploy directed by the government, which would like to destabilise the general in question on account of his attitude towards Muslim fundamentalism.

In some quarters, the possibility of a fresh military coup is even mooted, should the situation escalate any further.

It must be admitted that there seems little to look forward to, and that in a country that aspires to join the European Union in a few years’ time. We should, in fact, come clean and say that it is totally absurd. The report is right to remind us that the Copenhagen criteria include our own absorption capacity. On that basis alone, we should reverse the decision to open negotiations with Turkey.

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