The Fourth International Conference on the EU, Turkey and the Kurds
Monday 3rd -Tuesday 4th December 2007, European Parliament, Brussels
Organised by the EU-Turkey Civic Commission (EUTCC)
INTRODUCTION TO FINAL RESOLUTIONS
Pursuant to the presentation of Conference papers and interventions made by delegates, this Conference adopted the following declarations and calls for action to be undertaken by relevant parties to the conflict in the Kurdish Regions of Turkey.
Turkey and the EU are at this moment at a critical juncture. The accession process is widely regarded as having stalled, or at the very least, significantly slowed down. Reform implemented in the first stages of accession is now a distant memory, and there appears to be regression in progress. Geopolitical pressures on Turkey over incursions into Iraq are growing, while Turkey’s domestic politics are becoming more polarised. How Turkey and the EU respond to the turbulence of the past year will be of crucial importance for the future of the accession process, and the stability of the entire region.
The Conference resolves to periodically make recommendations of measures for the Turkish accession process, the protection of human rights and the situation of the Kurds
The Conference issues the following declarations:
1) Recalling the resolutions from the International Conferences on Turkey, EU & the Kurds of the preceding three years, the Conference continues to give its qualified support to Turkey’s EU accession process, contingent on demonstrable commitment from both parties to the human rights and fundamental freedoms;
2) The Conference calls upon the European Union to act as a unified body publicly expressing support for the EU accession process it began, including support of all EU requirements concerning democratic and legal reform within Turkey;
3) The Conference notes that the 2007 European Commission progress report on Turkish accession found that “no major issue has been addressed and significant problems persist”, and joins with the Commission in urging Turkey to confront these problems;
4) The Conference notes with alarm the failure of certain institutions within the Turkish State apparatus to adhere to its obligations under the European Convention on Human Rights and humanitarian law in accordance with the spirit and terms of its own recent reform packages and commitments given under the accession process; in particular, it is dismayed that institutions of the State have continued its military activities;
5) The Conference regrets that the unilateral ceasefire declared by the PKK in October 2006, for all practical purposes has come to an end and calls now upon both Turkey and the PKK to forthwith stop all hostile military operations in the region to provide political space to address the Kurdish questions through dialogue.
6) The Conference notes that it has become clear to everyone, including Turkey and the Turkish army, and the whole of the international community, that there is no military solution to the ongoing conflict; we call upon the Turkish government to cease all hostile military operations both within Turkey and Kurdistan, Iraq;
7) In particular, the Conference urges Turkey and the Member States of the EU to take practical and visible steps to demonstrate their full support for the establishment of a democratic platform for dialogue between Turks, Kurds, and other constituent peoples and minorities who are resident in Turkey;
Human Rights and Accession
8) The Conference supports the undertakings by the EU that reform in the area of Turkey’s fundamental rights, democracy and the rule of law must be strengthened in the course of accession negotiations and welcomes the commitment by the EU Commission to continue to monitor the reform process. These reforms should include a complete overhaul of the justice system including how judges are recruited and trained, promoting full independence of law enforcement officers and public prosecutors in order prevent the law being used to achieve political and ideological objectives.
9) The Conference reiterates the view expressed in the three preceding Conferences, that Turkey has not yet fulfilled the political elements of the Copenhagen Criteria, and reiterates that its support for the accession process is dependent upon the institutions of the EU robustly enforcing accession standards. It further underlines that there can be no further compromises on membership criteria akin to the EU decision to allow Turkey access to the negotiating table for ‘sufficiently’ fulfilling the Copenhagen Criteria;
10) Recalling last year's conference resolution number 10, the Conference calls upon Turkey to ratify the European Framework Convention on the Protection of Minorities as well as other UN Instruments concerning minorities and to respect the existing cultural and minority rights of all groups; and calls on the EU to apply pressure on the Government of Turkey as a potential member of the EU to ratify said Framework;
11) Recalling Articles 10, and 14, and Article 2 of the first Protocol of the European Convention on Human Rights and Article 8 of the European Charter for Regional or Minority languages, and the Council of Europe’s Parliamentary Assembly’s resolution 1519 of October 2006 on the cultural situation of the Kurds, the Conference reiterates its call to the State of Turkey and the European Union to develop and promote a strategic plan for mother tongue education;
12) With specific reference to the 2007 European Commission progress report, the European Parliament report on the increasing suicide of women in the Kurdish regions, as well as recalling the 2005 CEDAW response to Turkish Report to the Committee,) the Conference calls on the EU to ensure that Turkey address the status of all women and girls in the context of international standards, particularly considering the high rates of illiteracy, domestic violence, honor killing, suicide and forced and early marriages in Turkey, for which the lack of requisite services and judicial training fail to guarantee legal protections (and in particular notes need to address the regional disparity in the position of women through education, literacy, access to meaningful employment, political representation and access to justice); furthermore it requests the European Union to use all it powers to ensure that the Turkish Government develops, in consultation and co-operation with Kurdish women a National Action Plan to implement UNSCR 1325.
13) This Conference expresses regret the Turkish government’s initiation of work on the ill-planned Ilısu Dam in August 2006, and the start of the expropriation of land by the Turkish state which threatens mass displacement and loss of livelihood of the area’s inhabitants, the majority of whom are Kurds; endangers the historically important city of Hasankeyf, in an apparent attempt to further disassociate Kurds from their rich heritage and culture; and will, according to several environmental assessment reports, jeopardize access to water for Turkey’s neighbours and cause irreversible environmental harm;
14) In reference to the above, the Conference calls upon the Turkish government to reassess its position vis-à-vis this project, as well as the bodies of the EU monitoring the impact of internal displacement and what the potential effects of this project are on the already overpopulated urban centres of the Kurdish regions, as well as calling on member governments to put pressure on foreign capital companies to withdraw their investments in the project;
15) The Conference expresses its deep concern over Turkey’s employment of articles of the criminal code to prosecute writers, journalists, intellectuals, lawyers and many other defenders of free speech, including articles 215, 216 (incitement to hatred), 217, 220 (making propaganda for a criminal organization) 288 (attempt to influence a fair trial) and 301 (insulting ‘Turkishness’) of the Turkish Penal Code; the Conference calls on the EU to ensure that Turkey remove restrictions on freedom of expression from their legal framework entirely.
16) We call upon Turkey to fulfill its positive obligations under article 10 of the ECHR to promote a positive climate in which freedom of expression to flourish, and to protect writers, journalists, intellectuals, lawyers and many other defenders of free speech from unlawful interference by state and non-state actors.
The Centrality of the Kurdish Question
17) The Conference asserts that the resolution of the Kurdish conflict is essential to the establishment of a stable, democratic and peaceful Turkey capable of entering the European Union. True democratic reform can only occur if Turkey undertakes new political reform to its state institutions and banishes adherence to ethnic nationalism which is the root cause of the conflict and Turkey’s endemic instability;
18) This Conference therefore asserts that the Kurdish people and their representatives should be given a genuine participatory role in the accession process and in any debate over Turkey’s democratic constitutional future;
19) However, the Conference further asserts that more must and can be done on both sides and calls for the following confidence building measures to be adopted;
Confidence Building Measures
20) This conference notes the resolution of the conflict and the constitutional recognition of Kurds in Turkey is central to regional stability.
21) In this respect, the Conference calls upon the Turkish Government to begin a public debate about the constitutional recognition of the existence of the Kurdish people within Turkey;
22) The Conference calls upon all political parties in Turkey to help foster the conditions within Turkey for a democratic platform for dialogue;
23) The Conference calls upon the EU actively to support efforts for dialogue on minorities and specifically on Kurds in Turkey;
24) The Conference urges Turkey to recognize that for democracy to function, it is imperative that local government structures enjoy the full support of national government.
25) At this critical juncture at this time all actors involved (the EU, Turkey and the Kurds) must take heed of lessons from their past, and act in accordance with international law and humanitarian norms.
26) In particular, the Conference calls upon the Turkish Government to ensure that all legally constituted Kurdish democratic parties are allowed to engage in peaceful political activity without interference or constant threat of closure, with particular reference to the Democratic Society Party (DTP) and its current democratically elected members of parliament; in accordance with Articles 10 and 11 of the European Convention of Human Rights; further to immediately cease the harassment and politically-motivated investigations of Kurdish politicians.
27) The Conference notes that the recommendations of the ECtHR in several cases, but in particular regarding the case of Abdullah Ocalan vs Turkey, regarding conditions of detention in Turkey. The Conference further calls on the Turkish government to implement CPT (Committee on Prevention of Torture) recommendations on conditions of detention and specifically the health of Mr. Ocalan, and close —with immediate effect— Imrali island.
28) The Conference also urges each member state of the European Union to assist —including by earmarking funds— in the creation of a democratic platform for dialogue between Turkey and the Kurds and fully comply with their own freedom of expression obligations in respect of those Kurdish organisations and individuals who are concerned to promote the same;
29) The Conference reiterates that the Governments of the EU should not criminalise peaceful dissent of Turkey echoed by Kurdish organisations situated in Europe and to review its proscription of certain Kurdish organisations, especially in the light of public commitments to the search for a peaceful solution of the Kurdish question within the present territorial integrity of a democratically reformed Turkey;
30) Finally, the Conference renews its mandate for its Directors, Advisors and Committees, to engage and campaign on both a political and civic level across Europe in support of Turkey’s accession bid to join the European Union on the basis of this resolution.