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-- Parliament adds "capacity for absorption" and "geographical issues" to considerations over EU expansion --
Brussels, Belgium - Noting the slowing pace of reform in Turkey, the European Parliament has called upon the Turkish government to take immediate steps to ends its discriminatory and repressive policies.

In its recently adopted resolution on the "Commission's 2005 Enlargement Strategy Report," the Parliament also called on the European Commission to define the geographical boundaries of the European Union. This report, prepared by Elmar Brok (Conservative, Germany), Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, aims to formulate a comprehensive enlargement policy before focusing on candidate nations (Macedonia, Western Balkans) and countries in negotiation (Turkey, Croatia).

In the section of the report dedicated to Turkey, the European Parliament states that the priorities outlined in the Accession Partnership [...] have to be accomplished in the first phase f the negotiations" and "notes with satisfaction that the Commission now supports this view as well by stating that those criteria have to be fulfilled within one or two years."

Based on these considerations, the Parliament therefore called upon Turkey "to present as soon as possible a plan, including a timetable and specific measures, to meet these deadlines," and urged the Commission and the Council "to make the progress of the negotiations conditional on the timely accomplishment of those priorities."

This demand comes in reaction to the slowing down of Turkey's reforms, which were noted in the resolution. The Parliament also formally asked Turkey "to remove all existing legislative and practical obstacles to full enjoyment of fundamental rights and freedoms by all Turkish citizens, notably freedom of expression, religious freedom, cultural rights, rights of minorities." The Resolution also urged the Commission "to conduct a rigorous and thorough scrutiny of developments on the ground."

The adopted text - for the first time in European Union history - also recalled that "the capacity for absorption of the Union [...] remains one of the conditions for the accession of new countries" and stressed that "defining the nature of the European Union, including its geographical
borders, is fundamental to understanding the concept of absorption capacity."

Thus, the Parliament requested that that Commission " submit a report by 31st December 2006 setting out the principles which underpin this concept" and invites it "to factor this element into the overall negotiation timetable."

"We welcome the adoption of this resolution as a true expression of the growing will of the European Parliament to be involved in the Union's decision-making processes. This measure - like the many previously adopted resolutions on this matter - urges the European Commission and Council to not be satisfied with pledges and prolonged delays, but rather to demand genuine reforms in Turkey," said Hilda Tchoboian, Chairperson of the European Armenian Federation.

"We are working with European democratic movements in order to require that Turkey meet its criteria within the next two years - including its full recognition of the Armenian Genocide and the abandonment of its aggressive policies toward Armenia."

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