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Tuesday, 26 September 2006 - Strasbourg OJ edition

Turkey's progress towards accession (debate)

  Cem Özdemir (Verts/ALE).(DE) Mr President, I should like to start by thanking the rapporteur for his endeavours to capture the mood in this House and form it into a majority. Nevertheless, I believe that the decision by the Committee on Foreign Affairs tends to be the enemy of the good.

I should like to demonstrate this using two examples. The first is the point that my fellow Member has just raised towards the end of his speech: the Armenian question. I attended and spoke at the conference on the Armenian question in Istanbul that many are now describing as ‘historic’. It was the first conference of its kind, discussing all questions on this subject – including ones by the harshest critics – in Istanbul. The participants in this conference, from Taner Akçam to Halil Berktay to Hrant Dink – who is currently fighting a running battle with Article 301 – all asked me to tell this House explicitly that anyone wishing to assist the debate in Turkey should not make recognition of the genocide a precondition for membership of the EU. For this reason, I should like to make the following appeal to my fellow Members: anyone wishing to help the debate continue, anyone wishing to make a contribution to change in Turkey, should listen to the voices of the opposition in the country. I want to see the border between Turkey and Armenia resemble the border between Germany and France one day, but this will require our help.

My second point is that, on the Cyprus issue, too, we all agree that Turkey must keep its side of the bargain and implement the Ankara Protocol. There is also a political aspect to the obligations, however, and this concerns the fact that the people in the north of the island of Cyprus, the Turkish Cypriots, are waiting for us to keep our side of the bargain and put an end to the economic and educational isolation of the people living in the north of the island. Turkey must implement the Ankara Protocol, but we must also help put an end to the isolation of the people of Turkish origin in the north of Cyprus.

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