07 September 2006

989) An Obstacle Held In Spare

The recent report of the European Parliament Foreign Affairs Commission regarding Turkey is replete with views and demands the Turkish public, Parliament and Government can not accept.

This time round Pontus and Assyrian genocide allegations were incorporated into the report alongside the Armenian “genocide”. Through the constant fabrication of genocides the European Parliament (EP) has assumed a position devoid of seriousness. However, as the members of the EP are elected by the votes of EU member countries’ peoples, this report of the Foreign Affairs Commission reflects their inclinations. That the EP’s recent report and prior resolutions are generally adversative is a blatant indicator that EU member countries’ peoples do not view Turkey’s membership favorably. On the other hand that the Parliament’s resolutions are becoming increasingly stringent draws attention. For example the resolution adopted in the year 2000 is far more favorable than that of 2006. Although the EP’s resolutions and recent report should reflect the great strides Turkey has taken to conform to EU standards the exact opposite is at issue. This contradictory situation can be explained by how the activities of those opposed to Turkey’s accession has been on the rise alongside the increasing prospect of Turkey’s membership to the EU. This unavoidably attests to how Turkey shall confront tougher conditions on the path to accession than those contemplated which may ultimately not be met. . . . . .

Regarding the recent report of the Foreign Affairs Commission, the Turkish press has essentially focused on the stipulation that Turkey must recognize the Armenian genocide allegations to accede to the EU. This has led readers to suppose that such a stipulation was made for the first time although this is not the case. When Turkey applied for membership for the first time in 1987 the EP adopted a resolution headed “A Political Solution to the Armenian Question” whereby it was stipulated, among other conditions, that Turkey had to recognize the Armenian “genocide” prior to becoming a member of the EU. This resolution was inconclusive as Turkey’s application for full membership was not accepted during those years. When Turkey applied to the EU once again in 1999 the Armenian Question and the resolution of 1987 was instantly placed on the agenda. As a matter of fact, since then in all resolutions adopted by the EP regarding Turkey, with only one exception, reference was made to the issue of recognizing the Armenian “genocide” either openly or by way of referring to the 1987 resolution. As such, consideration of this issue on the part of the European Parliament is not new and is, in essence, a reiteration of past resolutions.

It is expected that the recent report of the Foreign Affairs Commission shall also be endorsed by the EP’s General Assembly without many amendments. What effects shall such a development have upon Turkey’s membership process? In the first instance it is to be noted that this report is of a recommendatory nature and the EU Commission conducting EU accession negotiations is not bound by them. In fact, the Chairman of the Commission Barroso clearly stated that he did not find this report to be appropriate. In actuality, recognition of the Armenian “genocide” is not included among the Copenhagen criteria which Turkey must fulfill prior to full membership.

Despite this, it is not possible to say that the “genocide” issue will not be placed on the agenda during the membership negotiations. Although the Commission may view itself to be bound by the Copenhagen criteria, it is possible that member states may set forth such a condition during negotiations with Turkey. As a matter of fact, France and Holland previously stated that they would touch upon this issue during the accession negotiations.

On the other hand Turkey, just as every other candidate country, has accepted to conform to the acquis communitaire. As the decisions of the EP constitute a part of the acquis this point may be raised at a future date whereby the “genocide” issue may be set forth. In the final count, should an accession agreement be concluded with Turkey the European Parliament shall be the first place where this agreement will be ratified. The EP could demand Turkey’s recognition of the so-called genocide prior to ratification.

As can be seen there exists avenues whereby the issue of the Armenian “genocide” may be addressed during the negotiations. It is the case that this issue is still being held in spare as an obstacle to preclude Turkey’s full membership or obtain a sizeable concession from Turkey. Whether or not this obstacle shall be brought forth and if so when this shall be done is at the discretion of influential EU member states.
Comment: Ömer Engin LÜTEM -
07 September 2006, Resource : IKSAREN

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