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06 11 06 - Euro MP claims 'genocide' recognition more than criteria
EUROPEAN ARMENIAN FEDERATION European Armenian Federationfor Justice & Democracy Euro MP claims ‘genocide’ recognition more than criteriaSunday, November 5, 2006‘I don’t see a positive result, and I see bitterness and frustration in Turkey in the event of the failure of EU accession talks,’ French member of EP says FULYA ÖZERKAN[]STRASBOURG - Turkish Daily News Jean-Louis Bourlanges, a French member of the European Parliament, linked Turkey's European Union accession process to recognition by Ankara of the alleged genocide of Armenians at the hands of the Ottoman Empire, saying that it was a moral responsibility on the part of Turkey to come to terms with its past, which is beyond criteria required for full membership. “I think it is more than a criterion. It is not a legal criterion. It is a moral duty,” Bourlanges told the Turkish Daily News in an interview. The European Parliament's report on Turkey, engineered by Dutch rapporteur Camiel Eurlings, had earlier included a paragraph laying down recognition by Ankara of genocide allegations as a precondition for full membership. But the controversial clause was taken out from the report during debates at the Strasbourg-based parliament in September. EU officials have also assured Ankara in their remarks that recognition of the genocide claims is not a condition for joining the 25-nation bloc. Bourlanges complained about the current situation both in the EU and also in Turkey, which he said was a “gigantic denial of reality,” raising concerns over Ankara's denial of the so-called genocide. “I think it is necessary to answer the questions on whether we share the same views on having a common future, interpretation of the past and synchronization of democracy,” he said. “We should not make concessions on democracy; we should not be in a diplomatic game in which everybody tries to push its own advantage. We are a political community. It is not like a U.N. organization. You are not joining the United Nations. The EU is completely different. It is a unique union … and a kind of political body.” Bourlanges, however, criticized a “genocide bill” adopted by the French National Assembly last month criminalizing any denial of the alleged genocide, saying that the bill was the opposite of the Turkish Penal Code's (TCK) Article 301, which has landed a string of intellectuals in court due to denigrating “Turkishness” -- some for comments on the alleged Armenian genocide. “Personally if I were a member of the French parliament, I would have voted against the bill. ... I am worried about the whole process. I think people in favor of Turkish accession and people who are opposed to it are behaving equally bad. It will create a lot of political frustration and probably a political disaster by accumulating decisions in opposite directions,” he said. The French bill, which has badly strained ties between Ankara and Paris, needs to win the approval of the Senate and be signed by President Jacques Chirac to become law. Bourlanges said there were three reasons why French lawmakers approved the controversial bill; one is the belief that there was a genocide; the second is the upcoming election in France, where many Armenian voters and citizens live; and the third is a very bad tendency on the part of the current French democracy to draft laws similar to the “genocide bill,” including one on slavery. “But my attitude concerning the Turkish problem is both a political and a moral one. What I want is that Turkey recognizes its responsibility,” he added. “We are trying to establish a political and moral contract between the EU and Turkey. In my opinion recognition of history is the basis of this contract. It is different, of course, from the [Holocaust] in Germany. I agree it is not the same past but I believe what Armenians experienced is more than tragedy.” The European parliamentarian voiced strong opposition to Turkey's bid to become a full member of the EU and claimed that the negotiations with Ankara, which opened last October, would probably fail. “It would have been more important if we had organized from the very beginning something like special partnership for Turkey. I think we'll go through a very difficult situation. I don't see a positive result, and I see bitterness and frustration in Turkey in the event of failure,” he added. ‘Entry talks with Turkey becoming more difficult': The Cyprus row is one of the major hurdles standing in the way of Ankara's EU entry process. Turkey is under EU pressure to open its ports and airports to Greek Cypriot shipping by the end of this year, but Ankara refuses to do so unless the economic isolation of the Turkish Cypriots is eased. “If a country wants to join the EU, you have to shake hands with all the members. If you have a problem with a member, it is necessary to solve it before being a member,” Bourlanges said. Referring to the Finnish term presidency's intense efforts to craft a deal in a bid to avoid a crisis in Ankara's accession negotiations over the Cyprus standoff, he said: “I think we have everything in the wrong side and it will not help because we have too many difficulties which make negotiations more and more difficult.” Bourlanges said there were lots of people who were in favor of Turkish accession but claimed that certain realities with regard to Turkey should not be ignored. “What is impossible is to make a monkey's move, which is to close your eyes, close your ears and close your mouth and not to consolidate as per the problem of Armenian genocide, the problem of Cyprus, the problem of human rights and the problem of freedoms. All these can be solved, and if they are solved, we'll follow the negotiations,” he said. Asked whether Turkey would be a member of the EU one day, the parliamentarian said: “I don't know if Turkey will be an EU member before the dissolution of the bloc. I'm rather pessimistic about the future of the EU. I think we don't do what we have to do. We are not consistent. We don't know what competence we want to introduce. There is a lot of uncertainty. I think it is too difficult to build something strong and something that is understood by the citizens on such a basis.” E.A.F.J.D. – Avenue de la Renaissance 10 – 1000 BRUXELLESTel. : +32 (0) 2 732 70 26 - Tel. / Fax. : +32 (0) 2 732 70 27 E-mail : - Site Internet :


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