Select Committee on Foreign Affairs Minutes of Evidence

Examination of Witnesses (Questions 20 - 39)



  20. Would you colleagues like to comment on what Mr Mackinlay asked?
  (Dr Hale) Can I just stay something about the role of the military first. I think we are looking at two issues here. One is the military's role in maintaining law and order in the south-east which, as Philip has mentioned, has involved very serious human rights abuses and clearly we have to press the Turkish authorities for the elimination of those. The second aspect is the role of the military in Government in influencing Government decisions in fields outside strictly the sphere of national security and defence. In this regard, there have been changes recently and, in particular, in the Accession Partnership Document which the European Union issued in November 2000, they called upon the Turkish Government to bring the powers and functions of the National Security Council into line with the practice of other European Union member states. In response to that, Article 118 of the Constitution was altered. Previously, the wording of this clause included the statement that the Council of Ministers shall give priority consideration to the decisions of the National Security Council concerning the measures that it deems necessary and so on and this has been rewritten to say, "The National Security Council shall submit to the Council of Ministers its view on the advisory decisions that are taken" and that the Council of Ministers shall evaluate decisions of the National Security Council. In other words, the rewording is meant to convert the National Security Council into, more properly, purely an advisory role. The second change which was made was in the composition of the National Security Council. The Minister of Justice is now included as a member of the Council so that there would be a majority of civilian members of the Council.

  21. In your judgment, is that likely to make a difference?
  (Dr Hale) We simply do not know; we have to wait and see. I think the question relates also to something that Philip Robins mentioned which is that a large part of the Turkish public still regard the military with a great deal of respect. Public opinion polls show that it has far more trust in the military than it does in their elected politicians. So, changing that cultural situation is going to be quite difficult.

Mr Illsley

  22. It is another one of these circular arguments where we in the West are saying, "There is no way we are going to let you into the European Union while you have this military influence over your Government" and yet without the military influence over the Government, the politicians tend to verge on the corrupt and the public at large tend to trust the military more than the politicians. These contradictions are . . .
  (Dr Hale) Many countries have contradictions in political systems. Can I just go back to the Kurdish question which Mr Mackinlay importantly raised. Your first question, if I remember correctly, Mr Mackinlay, was whether there is an equivalent to the SDLP.

Andrew Mackinlay

  23. Yes, John Hume, as it were.
  (Dr Hale) The HADEP is, at the moment anyway, a legally established party. Its leadership has always strictly eschewed the use of terrorism but it is probably the case that a large number of its grass root supporters either are or have been supporters of the PKK. So, it would be hard to say that HADEP is in the same position as Sinn Fein, but there are some parallels there. Apart from that, it has to be remembered that quite a large number of members of parliament, probably somewhere between 120 and 150 in the Turkish Parliament out of a total membership of about 550, are representatives of the Kurds or are themselves of Kurdish origin. These people do make their point and have their say within the mainline Turkish political parties and this can, and has done, open up internal divisions within the political parties over these issues. So, there is a different situation to Britain. It is as if both the Conservative Party and Labour Party had a substantial representation from Northern Ireland for example, which they do not at the moment. I am not quite as pessimistic as Dr Robins about the possibilities of change here. Two issues which have been firmly put on the agenda by the European Union are first of all permission for Kurdish language broadcasting which is at the moment forbidden under the broadcasting law, and the second one is the use of Kurdish in education, although I have to admit that the European Union was extremely vague about what it actually was requiring Turkey to do in that regard. On the first issue, there is widespread support for allowing Kurdish language broadcasting except in the Nationalist Action Party and I suspect parts of the police and the security forces, and the army maybe. However, I do not think it is impossible; in fact, I think it is probable that there may well be a change on this point in the near future. On the question of the use of Kurdish in education, one has a wide range of possibilities running from at one extreme the use of Kurdish as a medium of instruction for all subjects in schools and maybe universities in the south-east. This is most unlikely to be achieved. The Constitution states quite strictly that the language of education shall be Turkish. At the other end of the spectrum, you have the possibility of allowing the formation of Kurdish cultural societies et cetera which could encourage the use of the Kurdish language. It remains to be seen what position the European Union would take on that but of course it also has to be remembered that there is a wide variety of different practices within different European Union countries.

Mr Hamilton

  24. I want to move us on now to Turkey's role in the war against terrorism after September 11. Do you think it is fair to say that in the war against terrorism Turkey's increased importance has therefore increased the reliance of the West on Turkey and reduced any leverage that the West may have on Turkey in terms of internal changes or other issues that we have discussed this morning? Secondly, what does Turkey hope to gain out of its increasingly important role in the war against terrorism?
  (Mr Park) It is interesting to try to pin down what Turkey's role is in the war against terrorism, or indeed what the war is. There is no doubt that Turkey has won itself more friends in the United States by its very positive support and its willingness to contribute forces and to play a role in the UN force in Afghanistan and so on. Afghanistan is interesting first of all partly because, other than that there may have been special forces already there, the forces promised did not arrive because essentially America has achieved its answer before that happened. The interesting issue is this possibility that the Turks might take the lead in the UN force when the British give it up. It is not clear that that will happen because it is not clear that everybody in Afghanistan would welcome it. In Afghanistan some people see Turkey as too close to the Uzbeks, to General Dostum. This is perhaps a little bit of a lesson to everybody, that we presented Turkey as being Muslim and on our side and therefore usable but within the Islamic world there are lots of different splits and factions and Turkey can be seen as on one side rather than another in Afghanistan. Quite how usable Turkey is in Afghanistan I think is still to be resolved. More broadly, when one looks at the international politics, again there is no doubt that Turkey is prepared to make resources and facilities available, most especially to the United States, but it is very nervous about Iraq and at every opportunity is reminding the United States of the risks of military involvement with Iraq. They fear the dismemberment of the country because of the impact on their own Kurdish problem, and also for economic reasons. Again, should the war against terrorism shift towards action against Iraq, and indeed even Iran, I could envisage tensions with Turkey. On the way in which we in the West, most especially in Europe, deal with terrorist groups, there is also a problem because the Turks would rather that the European Union had included on the list of prescribed organisations groups that Ankara itself regards as prescribed and we have not done that, so it is a little bit inclined to say, "We have long had a problem with terrorism and one of our problems has been external support, not least in Europe, for those groups, either in the form of direct support or at least allowing people to live here". There is therefore scope for differences of view there: how far in this war against terrorism are we going to go in prescribing terrorist groups that essentially operate internally and on behalf of causes that can be identified as self-determination? If we are not going to do that then my guess is that we will continue to have some problems with the Turks. I think there are a lot of questions about precisely what Turkey's role is going to be in this whole range of issues, and indeed whether this whole range of issues that we call the war against terrorism is all moving in the same direction.
  (Dr Robins) I just want to add briefly that of course, as we know, the world did not begin on 11 September and I think it would be wrong to give the view that Turkey is only being helpful in some of these areas since 11 September. A very good example of this is in peacekeeping operations in that the Turks were frustrated in not having a role in Bosnia much earlier, and when they did have the opportunity to play a role on the ground through the deployment of both military peacekeepers and also police they performed extremely well in comparison to most of the other international contingents that were there, and they continue to be there and they continue to be well regarded on the ground. The Turks were also part of the international-Italian-led operation in Albania, for instance. They were also in Somalia. Smaller contingents have played a role elsewhere as well. I think due note should be given to this because I think this is evidence of Turkey's willingness to play a role as, if you like, good international citizen. There is a sort of middle power role there that perhaps the Turks could be encouraged to play with the traditional middle power model in mind. Certainly if one wants to help wean the Turkish military away from an over-preoccupation with domestic politics then giving them a role more broadly, a role which would involve a considerable amount of prestige, which would involve closer relations with those countries and those other military contingents with which they feel particularly close, then that would be really quite an effective and potentially successful way of doing that which might at the same time lead people to view the Turkish military in a more textured way.

  25. Obviously a lot of the points you make in your submission to us. Can I come back to something that Mr Park said earlier about Turkey's role as a Muslim state and the fact that there are so many divisions within the different Muslim countries? For example, the Iranian Foreign Minister, Kamal Kharrazi, is quite opposed to Turkish involvement in Afghanistan, suspecting an ulterior motive, and you mentioned, quite rightly, Turkey's connection to the Uzbek warlord General Dostum. Do you think that Iran is going to object very strongly if Turkey starts taking a lead role in peacekeeping in Afghanistan? What will Iran's reaction be, and does it matter?
  (Mr Park) There seems to be quite a lot of rockiness at the moment in the way in which we, the West, are regarding Iran. For a period it looked a little bit as if there could be especially some US/Iranian rapport with respect to events in Afghanistan. More recently these hopes have faded because the Iranians seem to be supporting their man in Herat quite directly and may also have been a conduit, an escape route, for al-Qaida. I am not sure how true that is but it is out there as a possibility. Precisely what kind of role Iran is playing itself seems to shift from day to day and maybe is largely explained by domestic Iranian politics, on which I am not an expert. The more Turkey is involved in what we will call the war against terrorism, almost regardless of the form that takes, simply the more it is involved, the more this will raise problems with its relationships with other parts of the Muslim world. The big issue is to what extent would it matter. In this respect I think it much more depends on how far the United States and Iran fall out with respect to Afghanistan. Turkey and Iran work quite hard to maintain a relationship between themselves in spite of everything, but this set of issues and the role that the Turks might be encouraged (or indeed might volunteer themselves) to take in Afghanistan could cause problems if there is a bigger problem in Iranian/US relationships or a bigger problem in the way Iran views Afghanistan. I think in a sense that the big question here, in addition to what I have already said about Turkey, is about Iran. What precisely is its aspiration in Afghanistan? The rule of thumb is the more that the neighbouring or interested parties continue to back their side in Iran rather than some notion of national coalition, the more there will be fall-out. However, if the Iranians throw their lot in, as initially seems to be the case, in the creation of an internationally agreed resolution of the Afghanistan issue, then the Turks could probably become involved in ways that would not unduly upset Turkish/Iranian relations.

  26. I do not know if you saw the Newsnight programme on Friday about Iran's increasing influence in Afghanistan with the building projects, especially around Herat. The only new road being built in Afghanistan in the last 20 years has been built by Iranian workers which obviously would lead you to think that Iran is seeking a wider role in Afghanistan. I just want to ask you finally whether any of you believe that therefore Turkey could be a conduit towards closer relations of the European Union and Iran. You mentioned that although there seemed at one stage to be the possibility of a rapprochement between Iran and the US, that is obviously not the case, but Iran is making quite strong efforts to move closer to European Union countries. Is Turkey the way to do that?
  (Dr Robins) The issue of, "Can Turkey be a bridge for the West to the Muslim world?" often comes up and it has always struck me as wishful thinking, as a misleading analogy. There is a sense in which it literally is a land bridge for certain land transported cargoes, but more philosophically, more culturally, personally I would tend to see the European Union as a bridge for better relations between Turkey and Iran. Turkey has always looked west, is very much oriented towards the West, it has tried to keep out of Middle Eastern politics for many years, going back to the difficulties it had during the Baghdad Pact back in the 1950s. It does not particularly understand Middle Eastern politics or Middle Eastern dynamics. It is not comfortable with it. It is not comfortable operating in those circumstances. I would say that the European Union, or some European Union countries, have better relations with Iran than Turkey has with Iran. The Turks and the Iranians in the 1980s and into the 1990s came to some tentative understandings. They perhaps realised that it was not in the interests of either of them to get too much involved in the politics of the other. Occasionally things would flare up, particularly over the support that was perceived to be given by one for the opposition groups in the other, but by and large it is a relationship which has been characterised I suppose by a wary stability, or a wariness which has delivered a certain stability but without there being much interaction or much by way of warmth. Occasionally it is said, and I think that the Turks themselves picked this point up a little bit, that September 11 gave them an opportunity to be a forum or to provide a platform for the West and the Islamic world to come together, and I think there was even a proposal by the Foreign Minister that there should be some sort of a gathering in Istanbul where people should come together and exchange views and so on. I am sure that we have all been involved in the last few months in thinking about ways in which we can increase communication with the Muslim world and understand perspectives and reassure one another and so on. Those I have spoken to about whether Turkey could really have a role here have tended to be somewhat dismissive partly because they say that Turkey is insufficiently democratic to parade a democratic platform which fuses Islam and democracy, but on the other hand are insufficiently inclusive in terms of the moderate Islamist forces inside Turkey to have a credibility in the wider Muslim world. While Turkey essentially could play this sort of role in the future if its democratic component goes up and its domestic inclusiveness is increased, I think at the moment probably it is somewhat poorly placed to play that sort of role.

  27. Dr Robins, you mention in your submission to the Committee the huge and profound effect that President Clinton's visit had in 1999 in warming relations between Turkey and the US and eliminating some of the suspicions that many Turks have of the US. Should Tony Blair visit Turkey?
  (Dr Robins) It may seem a little bit frivolous to talk in these terms but I have become more and more convinced that a substantial amount of the problems that have existed between Turkey and Europe, Turkey and individual countries, Turkey and the United States, is one of presentation, of misperception and so on, so if we can get our presentation in order then we will not of course address all of the problems because there are major substantive problems here, but it will certainly provide a much better context in which we can go at some of these problems together in a low-key and businesslike sort of way. I think a regular stream of high level visitors really did serve the United States extremely well here and that is precisely the sort of thing that has never really happened with the European Union. Jacques Delors never visited Turkey, for instance. I think Robin Cook spent four hours in Turkey during his term as Foreign Secretary. Tony Blair has not visited Turkey even though I think he is interested in Turkey. We hear he is interested in Turkey and he is certainly not ill disposed towards Turkey. High level visits of this kind, even if they are only vacations with a little bit of official business tagged on at the end, would mean an awful lot and would certainly play very well.

Mr Maples

  28. Can we move on to European defence? When the process started up Turkey's misgivings were understandable. It was a member of NATO, it was not a member of the EU, it was not likely to become one for some time. With so many of the potential conflict situations sketched out by the European Union in Turkey's area of the world, and with the long-standing hostilities with Greece and Cyprus, one can understand all their misgivings. They then suddenly seem to have evaporated without any solid evidence of what they have achieved in exchange for being difficult for a year or so. I wonder two things. First of all, is there some agreement in Baghdad that I have missed or is secret and you know about and I do not, in which they have got some local decisions on the use of NATO assets in EU operations or which have given them some joie de vivre on European defence initiatives, or did they have some collaboration with the United States to make this happen? In other words, have we got a solution to this problem or has it just been made to go away for the time being?
  (Mr Park) I think the Turks achieved quite a lot. I will have to modify that statement a little bit, but the achievement (such as it was) was not between, say, the position in the middle of November and the position in early December 2001. The achievement really dates back to the previous summer. Essentially the Turks felt excluded. It is possible to present the EU's ESDP as exclusive, discriminatory, to non-EU members and the Turks took umbrage at that. They entered into these negotiations and I think fairly early on the form that largely British-conducted negotiations developed went quite some way to giving the Turks what they wanted. What was then interesting was that the Turks said it was not enough until they decided in December 2001 that it was enough. It is not clear that something new was offered to them, that they had suddenly been able to accept at the end of November, beginning of December.

  29. Do you know what they were offered six months earlier?
  (Mr Park) I think they were essentially offered what they had been offered months earlier and that they had argued was not enough. Suddenly it was enough. There was a meeting on November 27, I think, and early in December the Turks said, "Okay, we are now satisfied". I do not think anything happened then, but what they signing up to was something they did not have when these negotiations first started back in May. To that extent, from the beginning the Turks causing a fuss did actually get them something, but what made them change their mind and accept what they had been offered is quite interesting and a little bit lost. My guess is that it was something to do with the United States here. There is no doubt that the United States were lobbying quite heavily. I have no proof but I am struck by the link between the Turks saying, "We will now sign up to what you are offering us on ESDP" and the EU saying to Turkey, "You can now become a member of the Convention that looks at the future of the European Union". I have no proof that these things are connected, but it did seem to me that the EU and Turkey shifted positions on these issues at roughly the same time, so maybe there is a connection. One of the problems I have, and I think both Philip and Bill are more experienced than I am on this, in interpreting Turkish diplomacy is that it at least seems to me that it is very often characterised by a kind of brinkmanship. I am never quite sure whether the position really is as tough and as uncompromising as it appears to be or whether that is a negotiating tactic or a final position. Another interpretation is that the Turks dug in, asked for more, recognised by November or December that they were not going to get more, and decided to accept what they had been offered. It might be that they just appreciated that they had gone as far as they could go. They have never publicised in Turkey exactly what the terms of this understanding are. I roughly know what they are but they never publicised them.

  30. Can you tell us what your understanding of the terms is?
  (Mr Park) Basically the Turks were arguing for something beyond assurances that the EU would not do two things. One was that it would not get involved in anything to do with Greece and Turkey or Greece, Turkey and Cyprus, and the other that it would not get involved in anything in what Turkey regarded as an area of vital concern, which covers most of the places probably where crises are likely to develop, because it is the Balkans, it is the Caucasus, it is the Middle East, and so on. The threat was that if they did not get satisfaction on this they would veto the EU's access to NATO assets. Basically what the British/American negotiating team offered them was assurances that of course Turkey's views would be taken seriously. What the Turks sought was guarantees, and that is essentially the difference. The language used was involvement in "decision making", which the EU said, "You cannot have", and "decision shaping" which basically the British said, "You can have" and which the Turks said (until early December) was not acceptable. The Turks seem to have accepted "decision shaping". They have accepted that the EU will not be involved; an assurance—I do not think it is more than that—that the EU will not be involved in arguments between NATO states. My guess is that the Americans would make sure that that is the case anyway, and maybe the Americans did do something that satisfied the Turks there. The other is that the Turks had been promised that on a case by case basis they will be consulted at an early stage in a more or less inclusive and formalised manner on any EU consideration of operations in those areas that Turkey regards as vital to its interests. The mechanism for achieving this is basically upgrading committees. There is a Committee of Interlocutors, which I think the British came up with, which is essentially NATO non-EU states. The Turks wanted this to be a standing committee and the British promised that it would meet when it was necessary. Somewhere in there is a fudge that the Turks now say is satisfactory. The other is the Committee of Contributors, that is, those countries who might be prepared to contribute to an operation will be consulted fully and at an early stage. Again there seems to have been some diplomatic language which satisfies the EU's requirement that it makes decisions whether it is going to have an operation, and Turkey's requirement that it is included in that from the beginning. It seems to me that these two committees, on both of which Turkey will sit, will have a kind of terms of reference that will ensure (I believe) that Turkey will be consulted at an early stage. The Greeks have objected to this so technically the EU has now not been able to accept this deal, because the Greeks have said that in fact the EU's insistence on the autonomy of its decision-making has been eroded or undermined by this deal. The British position is that it has not; the Greek position is that it has; Turkey's position is that it is now a problem between Greece and the EU. We are talking about the niceties of the terms of reference of these committees, on the distinction in practice between decision making about an operation and decision shaping, on how much Turkey's involvement towards the front end of a set of considerations about an operation means involvement as if it were an EU member, or involvement as if it were something less than an EU member, and all of this obviously is a matter of interpretation depending on where one sits, and clearly the Greeks sit in a position that is quite different from where Turkey sits.
  (Dr Hale) I would go along with Bill Park's suggestions about the techniques of Turkish diplomacy. I think that probably is the way they operate. One other thing I would add is that the ESDP issue did not seem to awaken an enormous amount of public interest or sharp feeling in Turkey itself. People in Turkey at the time during last year were primarily concerned with the economic situation of the country and when it came to foreign policy issues there was Cyprus, relations with the EU in general, Afghanistan, etc. The ESDP tended to drop into the background and I suspect that that was what made it easier for the Turkish to reach an agreement eventually with the EU via the British Government than would otherwise have been the case.

Mr Pope

  31. Turning now to drugs, most of the heroin that is used in the UK passes through Turkey and most of the heroin that passes through Turkey passes through the south east of Turkey. Clearly this is an area under fairly strict military control. It struck me that if one of the concerns of the military is that politicians (maybe not just in Turkey; perhaps here as well) are short-termist, possibly corrupt, not really very trustworthy, in truth it is at least arguable that the military are not much better. They must know about the trade in heroin that is going through south east Turkey. It is possible to conclude that they even control some of it. I just wondered what your view was as to whether they can stop it if they wish, why do they not stop it, what is their involvement?
  (Dr Hale) It is an impossible question to answer, to be honest, Mr Pope. There is virtually no reporting about this in the Turkish press and certainly no serious admissions by officialdom about it. What does seem to be the case is that various tribal chieftains are probably engaged in this trade and that they may very well have corrupt relationships with local authorities, but this is guesswork. It is a conclusion which one reaches from the outside evidence without internal evidence. There was one particular incident a number of years ago in the Susurluk crash which, if I remember, took place in November 1996, in which a senior member of the Turkish police force plus a well known and indeed convicted drug smuggler, plus a Kurdish tribal chieftain who was also a member of parliament for what was then the ruling party, were together in a motor car along with the mistress of one of them.

Mr Maples

  32. This was not reported in the Turkish press?
  (Dr Hale) This was widely reported in the press. The crash happened, by the way, in the western part of Turkey. Susurluk is near Balikesir in Western Anatolia. This produced evidence of these kinds of corrupt relationships. Maybe this was simply the tip of the iceberg.


  33. The Army had not been implicated?
  (Dr Hale) No, the Army was not implicated.

  34. And have not been?
  (Dr Hale) I do not know of any cases where this has come to light.

Mr Pope

  35. I must say If I had been involved in the car crash it is the sort of thing I would like to keep out of The Accrington Observer. There is obviously a number of obstacles to Turkey's accession to the EU and we are going to talk about human rights and Cyprus and so on, but surely this issue of drugs must be one of them. It would hugely assist Turkey if you could try and close down the trafficking in heroin through its borders. Most of that heroin is destined for EU nations. I would have thought that most EU nations would feel much better disposed towards Turkey if it were being proactive on this issue. I just wondered if that was a political view that was shared by Turkish politicians, that it is in their own interests to do something about it.
  (Dr Robins) One of the problems in driving this up the list of policy priorities in Turkey has been on the one hand that there has not been, certainly not until recently, an appreciable amount of use inside Turkey of drugs and certainly not hard drugs, so there has not been a domestic pressure for this to be taken very seriously inside Turkey. It is not perceived to be a problem that they have. At the same time, to be fair to the Turks, they have had a number of other issues, particularly to do with the south east of the country and to do with cross-border issues—terrorism, insurgency and so on—which have been very much more important and where the resources have gone in in greater amounts. One certainly could say that as the insurgency in the south east of the country has died back, so Turkish authorities have started to take the drugs issue more seriously, and certainly if you talk to the gendarmerie who are the branch of the military that are responsible for policing functions in the rural areas, they seem to have undertaken certainly internal reorganisations and the shifting of resources from about 1997 onwards to take into account a lower level of insurgency on the one hand and drugs as a bigger problem on the other. There are certainly domestic reasons why the Turks perhaps have not taken this issue so seriously in the past. Talking to Turkish officials more recently about this, I think that there is a perception (and whether it is a reasonable and accurate perception is another question) that if they do very well in certain areas that are of interest to the European Union that will be taken into account and that will somehow be taken to compensate for the fact that they may do slightly less well in other areas. I get the impression that hard drugs and co-operation over hard drugs has been earmarked as one of those areas where they really can focus on and they can do better than expected. As I said earlier, certainly over the last two years there has been a big improvement in co-operation and you now have a situation in western Europe where not only the Dutch and the Germans are saying that the Turks are very co-operative over this, but even British law enforcement agencies are saying this as well, and they tend to have been some of the most critical parties in the recent past. Where we are at the moment is in a situation where things are really starting to be much better than they were in the past. It is also interesting to note that the last couple of years or so has been the time when the Turks and particularly the Turkish military have set about trying to clean up the Turkish state, trying to weed out corrupt practices in the state, arresting people who have been involved in cronyist business ventures on the back of political relationships and so on. I suspect that moving in this area is seen as part and parcel of cleaning up some of the very bad and unhealthy practices which crept in between 1993 and 1997, which were if you like a negative by-product of the war against the PKK which we have been talking about.
  (Mr Park) I agree with everything that Philip has said on this. One thing we have to bear in mind about the percentage of heroin that goes through Turkey is simply the map. It comes through Turkey because it comes from the east of Turkey. An increasing amount of it, it is believed, also goes through the former Soviet Union, but it kind of has to go through Turkey or somewhere close to it and after that fans out to its markets. One of the things we have to say, and this is not an observation about Turkey, is how effective drug smuggling is throughout Europe. It happens to be effective in Turkey percentage-wise because that is where it goes through. It gets into Britain and into Germany and into Holland as well, whether we want it or not. A second point is that the Turks do have a natural advantage in this business, which is that they have a large Turkish and Kurdish diaspora scattered throughout Europe and this link also is quite important. Otherwise everything that Philip has said is absolutely the case. As there is more control in south eastern Europe, also with greater commitment that has taken place for other reasons, the Turks do seem to be making more effort and being more effective in this area.
  (Dr Hale) If it were possible to stop the drugs trade running through Turkey then it also ought to be possible to stop drugs entering the countries of western Europe. It is extremely difficult. There is a large, perfectly legitimate, civilian truck traffic between Turkey and its eastern neighbours and drug smugglers will exploit that to infiltrate drugs through the system.
  (Dr Robins) Apropos of the point about Iran earlier, which is an important one, one of the difficulties in terms of the Turks addressing this question has been that there has tended to be very little co-operation across the border with the Iranians. This is not because the Iranians are uninterested in the issue. Quite the contrary: they have a very big domestic hard drug problem themselves. It is because most of their efforts go into their eastern border, into stopping the transport and flow of drugs into Iran and into the major cities of Iran. But of course the fact that the Iranian effort is directed to the east means that there is relatively little cross-border co-operation with the Turks to the west and on the Turks' eastern border. This is certainly an area where some of those people working in the area of combating hard drugs have been trying to focus and I think there is a lot of potential there for trying to bring about closer co-operation between the Turkish and Iranian governments to the benefit of both parties and of course ultimately to the benefit of all of us.

  36. Clearly there is an illegal trade in the east anyway, is there not? I was reading an article in The New York Times that was talking about a trade in oil between Turkey and Iraq and that if they allow that to take place, which is sanctions busting, then presumably it is quite hard to prevent other illegal smuggling.
  (Dr Robins) There has always been a lot of cross-border livestock smuggling across that border, for instance, but I think the oil smuggling — everybody knows it is there, everybody knows it happens. There are just a lot of blind eyes being turned to it because of the economic impact of sanctions on the south east of Turkey.
  (Dr Hale) And also the economic impact of closing that trade on the Kurds in Iraq on the other side.

Sir John Stanley

  37. Turning to human rights, can we start by getting the benefit of a broad perspective which you have as to how far away you judge Turkey to be in time terms from meeting human rights standards for EU accession. Would you put it at a five-year progress? Is it a ten-year progress? Is it a 15-year progress? Perhaps you could give us a view as to the length of time which it is realistic to expect Turkey to be able to make the changes to meet the EU accession standards.
  (Dr Hale) There are a number of different fields in which changes have to take place. The first changes would be changes to the law, especially the penal code and various other statutes. This could be accomplished within two or three years, I would imagine, maybe less. Most recently, for instance, the Justice Commission of the Parliament, which is the equivalent of the Standing Committee, passed various changes in particular to Article 312 and Article 159 of the penal code which I mentioned in my paper. These changes were regarded as quite insufficient. Indeed, critics have argued that the new versions of those articles are even less respectful of human rights than the previous versions, but there is very widespread opposition to these proposed drafts. It appears that Parliament will now be taking this issue up in March.[1] My judgement is that those drafts are likely to be substantially altered and that there is a reasonable possibility that this and similar items of legislation could be brought into line with the European Convention on Human Rights. The second field of human rights, which will be more difficult to achieve, would be protection of minorities, as was mentioned in the Copenhagen criteria. On this issue it is not exactly clear, as I referred to earlier, what the European Union would regard as adequate. Changes will be difficult to achieve but again I think they can be achieved within a medium term perspective.

  38. Numbers of years? What is your medium term?
  (Dr Hale) By, say, 2004, 2005. The third and more difficult issue is improvements in the prison system, in the working of the criminal justice system, and in the treatment of prisoners in detention. There have been some shortening of the period that prisoners can be held in detention prior to being brought before a judge. This now stands as 48 hours which is, I believe, the same as it is in Italy, and other changes to the Criminal Courts Procedures Act are apparently on the agenda. However, to eliminate the use of torture as a regular means of extracting evidence or confessions from people held in detention would require a much more effective system for prosecuting police officers who commit those offences. This will be, I think, far more difficult to achieve and could take a number of years. Improvements in the prison system would also be required. This is not a field in which I have any expertise at all but these are the kinds of fields in which one imagines that changes would be harder to achieve. Again I would not like to exclude the possibility that they could be achieved.

  39. In that last most difficult area is your timescale out to five years and beyond?
  (Dr Hale) Yes.

1   Note by Witness: In fact, the Turkish parliament debated these Articles on 6 February 2002, the day after this evidence was given. Both Articles affect freedom of speech and communication. Article 312 of the Penal Code was amended, so as to apparently bring it into line with Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights. Article 159 was left largely unchanged, except that the punishments applicable were reduced, whereas many would argue that it should have been withdrawn, or at least substantially re-written. Back

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