Select Committee on Foreign Affairs Sixth Report


Is the EU serious about Turkey?
(a)We conclude that Turkey's cultural and religious traditions will make a positive contribution to the diversity of the EU. Pursuing Turkey's candidacy evenhandedly gives an important signal that the EU is not a closed Christian club, but an open organisation which can embrace those parts of the world within its geographical compass, both Christian and Muslim, which are prepared to accept common political and economic values, including respect for human rights (paragraph 11).
(b)We recommend that the Government speak out forthrightly in defence of Turkey's EU candidacy whenever it is opposed on the grounds of culture or religion (paragraph 12).
(c)We conclude that Turkey's geographical position, size and population, and its comparative poverty, may well delay the eventual date of its accession. We recommend that the Government, while it should remain committed to encouraging Turkey in its candidacy, should also temper this encouragement with the pragmatic advice that accession is certain to be some years away (paragraph 16).
(d)We recommend that the Government do all it can to ensure that Turkey's progress towards EU accession is judged according to the objective Copenhagen criteria, and that it is not unreasonably obstructed by individual member states (paragraph 18).
Is Turkey serious about the EU?
(e)We recommend that the Government make regular statements both publicly to the Turkish media and in private to the relevant Turkish authorities, restating the Government's commitment to Turkey's eventual membership of the EU and reassuring the Turkish public that Turkey's candidacy is being treated on the same terms as every other candidacy (paragraph 20).
(f)We conclude that the ongoing debate about EU accession within the Turkish government and society at large is healthy, and to be expected in a democratic state. We recommend that the Government should support Turkey's efforts to fulfil the Copenhagen political criteria, even if progress is slower than the Government would wish. We further recommend, however, that the Government support the position of the European Commission, that while it remains a matter for Turkey how speedily it wishes to fulfil the Copenhagen political criteria, accession negotiations will not commence until those criteria are implemented (paragraph 24).
(g)We conclude that as a result of delays in providing the funds necessary to deliver the European Commission's communication strategy in Turkey, an important opportunity has been missed to inform the Turkish public about the EU at a crucial stage in that country's candidacy. We recommend that the Government should act with its EU partners to ensure that the European Commission's information activity in Turkey is adequately financed (paragraph 27).
(h)We recommend that the Government should seek to establish bilateral programmes and to participate fully in multilateral programmes in Turkey to increase understanding of the EU at all levels of society, so that Turkish people are better informed on what joining the EU would mean for their country (paragraph 29).
(i)We conclude that the jury is still out on whether the Turkish authorities are really committed to the nuts and bolts of human rights reform, or whether they are merely applying tinsel and varnish. The energy devoted by the Turkish administration to ensuring that human rights principles are not only written into law, but also carried into practice, will be the real test of Turkey's commitment to human rights (paragraph 35).
(j)We recommend that one of the Government's main priorities in pursuing human rights reform in Turkey should be the prevention of torture. We further recommend that in raising allegations of torture with the Turkish authorities, the Government should take care to concentrate as much on cases involving ordinary Turkish civilians accused of 'ordinary' crimes as on those involved in politicised cases (paragraph 40).
(k)We recommend that the British Government explore with the Turkish authorities whether the Police and Criminal Evidence Act can be drawn on as a model for similar legislation in Turkey (paragraph 41).
(l)We recommend that the Government continue to organise and fund projects specifically aimed at improving the ability of law enforcement agencies throughout Turkey to gather evidence by other means than through confession (paragraph 42).
(m)We recommend that the Government consider consulting NGOs such as Amnesty International when planning and constructing training programmes intended to improve the human rights situation in Turkey (paragraph 43).
Minority rights
(n)We conclude that Turkey can only make progress in its EU candidacy if it guarantees cultural rights for all its citizens, irrespective of their origin (paragraph 45).
(o)We conclude that the failure of the European Union to designate the PKK as a terrorist organisation provides fuel for Turkish paranoia about European designs on the territorial integrity of the Turkish state. This failure also prevents the EU from being able to act effectively to promote Kurdish cultural rights and to speak in support of those within Turkey who are unfairly labelled as terrorists because they promote those rights peacefully. We recommend that the Government urge its EU partners to designate the PKK and DHKP-C as terrorist organisations as soon as possible. At the same time, we recommend that the Government remind Turkey that an organisation or individual should only be labelled terrorist if it uses or threatens to use violence to achieve its ends (paragraph 48).
(p)We recommend that the Government suggest to the Turkish authorities that current legislation denying cultural rights to the Kurdish minority and preventing peaceful demands for these rights increases rather than diminishes the risk that these rights will be demanded by violent means (paragraph 50).
(q)We recommend that the Government should take care to insist that the Turkish authorities grant cultural rights not only to the Kurdish minority, but also to other minorities without a history of separatist agitation (paragraph 51).
(r)We conclude that by providing education at least of the Turkish language through the medium of local languages, and by enabling people to access state institutions through their mother tongue, the Turkish authorities would be enhancing, not diminishing, the cohesion of the Turkish state (paragraph 52).
Freedom of expression and association
(s)We conclude that Turkey is unlikely to meet the Copenhagen political criteria regarding freedom of expression and freedom of association until there is a fundamental change in the way that the Turkish judiciary and law enforcement authorities act and think (paragraph 56).
(t)We recommend that the Government continue to urge the Turkish authorities to enable the BBC World Service to recommence FM rebroadcasting within Turkey as soon as possible (paragraph 57).
Capital punishment
(u)We conclude that it may take some time before the Turkish Government is able to carry through legislation to abolish capital punishment for terrorist crimes. We therefore recommend that until such legislation is passed, the British Government should concentrate on seeking to ensure that the Turkish moratorium on carrying out the death penalty is maintained (paragraph 59).
The military
(v)We conclude that the military is a factor in domestic politics which the Government and the EU cannot afford to ignore (paragraph 63).
(w)As the Turkish military is clearly not yet prepared to withdraw from domestic politics, we recommend that the Government use what contacts it has to encourage the military to engage in open debate on the political reforms required of Turkey by the EU (paragraph 63).
(x)We conclude that there is an awkward tension between the EU's emphasis on democratic standards and civilian control of the military, and the concern of Turkey's NATO allies (many of which are also of course EU member states) that Turkey should remain a western-orientated secular society at all costs, even if this means disenfranchising those elements in the Turkish population who support political Islamism, however moderate (paragraph 66).
(y)We conclude that there is little likelihood of the Turkish military ceasing to be involved in domestic politics in the short or medium term, although it may adopt a more behind-the-scenes approach for the sake of appearances. We recommend that the Government and its EU partners examine imaginatively with the Turkish authorities ways of ensuring that Turkey's stability can be guaranteed within the scope allowed by the Copenhagen criteria through means other than intervention or threat of intervention by the military. If such a mechanism cannot be found, we conclude that Turkey's EU candidacy is likely to make little progress for the foreseeable future (paragraph 69).
The risks of reform
(z)We recommend that the Government encourage the Turkish authorities to take ownership of the reforms required under the Copenhagen political criteria, to accept that they are in the best interests of Turkey, not just in the best interests of the EU (paragraph 73).
Assistance from the United Kingdom and the European Union
(aa)We recommend that the Government explore with the European Commission the possibility of extending the Phare programme to Turkey (paragraph 76).
(bb)We recommend that the Government consider setting up a 'Know How Fund' for Turkey (paragraph 78).
(cc)We recommend that Turkey be included in EU programmes and fora whenever this is possible (paragraph 79).
(dd)We recommend that the Government should consider whether it would be in Turkey's interests for a forthcoming European Council to set a date by which, in the estimation of member states, Turkey should be ready to begin accession negotiations. We further recommend, if the Government concludes that setting such a date would not be in Turkey's interests, that it should ensure that the reasons why this is the case are properly explained in Turkey and more widely. Finally, we recommend that the Government should do its utmost to encourage forthcoming European Councils to produce conclusions which encourage progress in Turkey's candidacy whether a date is set or not (paragraph 84).
Border disputes: Greece and the Aegean
(ee)We conclude that progress in negotiations between Turkey and Greece aimed at resolving boundary disputes in the Aegean would be good news not only for Turkey's EU candidacy but also for the stability of the region as a whole (paragraph 85).
(ff)we conclude that it is almost inevitable that Cyprus will be accepted as a member of the EU at the Copenhagen European Council in December 2002, whether a settlement has been reached or not. This is a political fact with which Turkey must come to terms (paragraph 86).
(gg)We recommend that the Government explore—and encourage its allies, including the USA, to explore—the possibility of using its contacts in Turkey, especially those in the military, to promote among Turkish doubters the benefits that a settlement in Cyprus would bring to Turkey, not only in terms of EU accession, but also in terms of regional stability and neighbourliness (paragraph 89).
(hh)We conclude that a settlement of the Cyprus problem before the end of 2002 would be highly beneficial to Turkey's hopes of EU accession. If Turkey is prepared to trust the European Union on Cyprus, and to assist in bringing about a settlement, then its own prospects of membership can only be enhanced. However, we recommend that it would be wise for the Government to draw up now a plan of action for the possibility of a divided Cyprus joining the EU, to help minimise the negative repercussions of this in Turkey (paragraph 92).
Turkey as a strategic ally
(ii)We conclude that because of its geostrategic position, its military strength, its secular political system, its Muslim population, and its utter commitment to fighting terrorism, Turkey is an extremely valuable ally in the ongoing war against terrorism (paragraph 94).
(jj)We conclude that it remains uncertain whether Turkey would be prepared to support a US military intervention in Iraq under current circumstances (paragraph 98).
(kk)We conclude that Turkey's strategic role is fully compatible with its EU aspirations, but that, contrary to what sometimes seems to be believed in Turkey, its strategic importance does not significantly enhance Turkey's prospects of EU accession (paragraph 103).
(ll)We conclude that whatever the reasons for the Turkish Government's eventual agreement to ESDP, the role of the British Government in negotiating the terms of this agreement was crucial and we congratulate those responsible. We further conclude that Turkish brinkmanship on ESDP should be borne in mind in the context of other negotiations, such as those for a settlement in Cyprus (paragraph 105).
Turkey in its region
(mm)We conclude that there is probably only a limited extent to which Turkey can bring together Europe and the Islamic world, but that it is well worth the effort of it trying to do so (paragraph 109).
(nn)We recommend that the Government should encourage Turkey to build good relations with all its neighbours, and to view improved partnerships with both the European Union and Asia as two mutually complementary possibilities (paragraph 110).
Illegal drugs
(oo)We recommend that the Government continue to place a very high priority on counter-drugs co-operation with Turkey (paragraph 112).
(pp)We conclude that while Turkey's efforts to combat the illegal drugs trade should certainly be taken into account when assessing progress on Turkey's EU candidacy, linking the two too closely could mean that if Turkey's EU candidacy stalls, so might co-operation against illegal drugs. We therefore recommend that the Government should look for incentives which are unconnected to Turkey's prospects for EU accession which could be used to encourage the Turkish authorities to maintain their vigour in acting against the illegal drugs trade (paragraph 113).
(qq)We recommend that the Government should use its good relations with both the Turkish and Iranian authorities in the fight against illegal drugs to encourage the two countries to co-operate in this field. We further recommend that the Government should consider making funds available to assist in such co-operation (paragraph 114).
Bilateral relations
(rr) We conclude that the United Kingdom, as a committed but not uncritical member of the European Union, is in a particularly good position not only to show understanding for Turkey where it has concerns about the potential impact of the EU accession process, but also to play an important part in allaying these concerns, where this is possible (paragraph 115).
(ss)We conclude that work by the FCO to improve service delivery at the visa operation in Istanbul appears slowly to be having positive results, but that there is still some way to go before targets for second interviews will be met. We intend to keep this situation under review, and we recommend that the Government in its response to this report keep us updated on progress towards meeting these targets (paragraph 119).
(tt)We recommend that the Government find a means of raising Chevening allocations to Turkey to their former level, either by the redistribution of available funds or by applying to the Treasury for an increased total allocation in the next public expenditure round (paragraph 122).
(uu)We recommend that the Government examine ways of encouraging an increased interest in Turkey in the United Kingdom, and of building links between British and Turkish educational institutions to promote mutual understanding (paragraph 124).
(vv)We recommend that the Government consider ways of involving the Turkish population in the United Kingdom in projects to enhance British-Turkish relations at the level of civic society (paragraph 125).
(ww)We conclude that a visit by the Prime Minister would be well received in Turkey and could be of much benefit not only to the United Kingdom's bilateral relations with Turkey, but also to the multilateral relations which the British Government is keen for Turkey to foster (paragraph 128).
(xx)Turkey is a major regional power and the only working secular democracy in its part of the Muslim world. There are many potential barriers to Turkey's wish to join the EU: human rights shortfalls, the role of the military, Cyprus, and, even if all those bridges are crossed, the economy. The country has some uncomfortable choices to make. Some Turks fear that meeting the EU's criteria will require them to abandon long-held principles on which the Turkish state is established. As is natural in a democracy, Turkey may not always make the choices that outsiders want it to make, and it may take longer than they would like to make those choices. In our view, it would benefit the EU to have Turkey as a member: it would expand its horizons, open up new markets, and show its inclusiveness to the Muslim world. The EU accession process will also bring advantages to Turkey: not only prosperity and stability, but also human rights and civil liberties (paragraph 129).
(yy)Turkey needs to take ownership of the political and economic reforms required of it by the EU. Human rights and economic reform are good for their own sake, not just because they are required by the EU or the IMF, and there are many in Turkish civil society, and a growing number in Government, who see this. EU member states for their part need to bear in mind the instability and animosity that will almost certainly result if Turkey turns away from the EU. Turkey's accession in the short term is unlikely, as all concerned know in their hearts. What is crucial is that the door to accession should remain open for as long as it takes. This will require much effort and good will on both sides. The prize is great. We are convinced that the British Government can play a crucial role in helping Turkey, and the EU, to achieve that prize (paragraph 130).

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