|Previous Section||Index||Home Page|
Dr. Liam Fox (Woodspring) (Con): I am grateful to the Foreign Secretary for his statement and for allowing us to see a copy in advance.
Following the end of the cold war and the accession of the former eastern bloc countries, there remain two great strategic objectives on the continent: the stabilisation and incorporation of the Balkans and the stabilisation and incorporation of Turkey. We should be in no doubt about the historic importance of those decisions. They will determine whether the European Union becomes a narrow, inward-looking group of states that tries to shut out the wider world, or whether it becomes a broad-minded club, ready to ride the currents of globalisation and changing civilisation.
We share the Government's belief that Turkey must be allowed to join the European Union. At its best, the EU can be a driver for human rights, democracy and the rule of law among those that seek to join it. We believe not only that Turkey should be allowed to join the EU, but that it should be welcomed into the EU. Those who reject Turkish membership should ask themselves whether they want a pro-western, secular and liberalising state or a fundamentalist, theocratic nation on Europe's borders. There are those on the continentnoticeably in old, not new, Europewho want to shut Turkey out. We profoundly disagree.
There are three groups for whom our message must have particular resonance. The first is the Turks themselves, to show them that if they move towards a
11 Oct 2005 : Column 160
liberalising, democratic state that shares our values there will be a reward for the Turkish. The second is the domestic Muslim population across Europe, to show that our war is not with Islam, but with terror, and that those who share our values can share our prosperity. The third is the oppressed people of the Islamic world, to show them that there is an alternative destiny other than theocracy and fundamentalism. Those are enormously important messages. We also welcome the beginning of accession negotiations with Croatia. They provide a great opportunity to entrench stability and democracy in the western Balkans.
There are questions that I am sure the Foreign Secretary will want to answer. First, he said that the Council concluded that Croatia was in full co-operation with the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia and that that must be sustained. Is the eventual attendance of Gotovina at the tribunal a prerequisite of the negotiations' successful conclusion? Secondly, how long do the Government envisage the accession negotiations taking in the cases of Turkey and Croatia respectively? Thirdly, the Copenhagen criteria emphasise human rights, the rule of law and respect for the protection of minorities. How much progress do the Government believe Turkey must make in those, and how does the Foreign Secretary expect progress to affect the length of the accession process? In particular, what bearing will the Pamuk and Dink cases have on the course of negotiations? Turkey's accession will be the most challenging ever undertaken. Does he foresee a role for long, or even permanent, derogations from parts of the acquis, such as the free movement of workers?
We believe that the prospect of Turkey's accession is the best context in which to see an end of the division of Cyprus. How does the Foreign Secretary see the two processes interacting, especially in regard to Turkey's recognition of Cyprus, and the access of Cypriot planes and vessels to Turkish airspace and ports? In particular, will the Government press for recognition of Cyprus before, and not just at, accession?
There are two great challenges for European politicians in this process. First, a more flexible and looser Europe would make the accession of Turkey and Balkan states much easier. Perhaps more immediately, European leaders have a clear choice. They can have the strength and courage to argue for Turkish accession and security and stability for future generations, or they can pander to the xenophobia of parts of their electorate. The moral gauntlet has been thrown down to Europe's leaders. Our Government must give a lead.
Mr. Straw: As this is an ecumenical occasion, heaven forfend that I should make any point about people pandering to xenophobic electorates. I will bite my tongue and not utter such a thought[Interruption.] I think that Conservative Front Benchers know exactly what this is aboutit is about holding up the mirror to themselves. What we wish for others we should also accept for ourselves.
I am grateful to the hon. Member for Woodspring (Dr. Fox) for what he said and for the way in which he made his remarks. The issue is important for Turks and for people of all faiths and of none in this country, and not least for those of the Muslim faith and for people of the Islamic faith throughout the world. Quite
11 Oct 2005 : Column 161
a number of democracies around the world have a majority Muslim population. An urgent process is required, particularly in the Arab world, and we hope that a leading part of the Islamic world will provide a beacon for reform elsewhere.
The hon. Gentleman asked whether Gotovina's delivery to The Hague is a formal prerequisite of the negotiating framework. The answer is no. That was never the case, for reasons that become fairly apparent. We never expected the Croatians to be in a position of having to deliver Gotovina. After all, he might have disappeared to a place from where it is impossible for even the best law enforcement agencies to deliver him. However, we were clear that there had to be full co-operation. There was not, and we took the lead in insisting on better co-operation, with Carla del Ponte and the Commission. I am glad to say that as a result of that, Prime Minister Sanader of Croatia has been able to exercise greater authority over his own security personnel. That led to Carla del Ponte taking the view that co-operation is now forthcoming.
The hon. Gentleman asked me about time. Because Croatia is a smaller country it had got to the point of beginning negotiations, but for the Gotovina problem, at an earlier stage. I expect that it will be a few years before Croatia has a tick in the box for all of its chapters, at which point formal accession can take place.
The Turkish Government say that the process will take between 10 and 15 years. Long-term derogations will be subject to negotiations, but let us be clear that what Turkey seeks, what we want for Turkey and what the Union has now signed up to is full membership. However, we are not in favour of permanent derogations in respect of the four fundamental freedoms of the Union.
The hon. Gentleman asked about human rights and in particular about Orhan Pamuk. Turkey has made considerable progress, even in the four and a half years that I have been Foreign Secretary, on human rights, following the coup 10 years ago in which the elected Government were forced from office. There is much further progress to be made, but Members might be aware that Olli Rehn saw Mr. Pamuk when he visited Turkey late last week.
I quote from an interview that Mr. Pamuk gave on 3 October:
He did not want it to be used to block Turkey's entry to the EU or to abuse Turkey. He continued:
We are all concerned about Orhan Pamuk, but it is clear not only that many people are working directly for him but that others within the system also want the system to be radically changed.
On Cyprus, the hon. Gentleman asked how those two processes fit together. There is no formal linkage, but they have to fit together. We had hoped to achieve a unified Cyprus before the formal accession of Cyprus on 1 May last year. The Turkish Government pulled out all the stops to achieve a yes vote within the so-called Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, and there was a yes vote among Turkish Cypriots. Sadly, there was a no vote among Greek Cypriots to an almost equal extent,
11 Oct 2005 : Column 162
and it is regrettable that the Cypriot Government, having been party to the Bürgenstock decisions, took a different view when recommending them to their peoples. We have a problem that must be resolved. I have therefore spoken to Kofi Annan to see whether and in what circumstances he would be ready to restore his good offices mission.
The recognition of Cyprus will follow a peace processeveryone knows that that is the case. People who are familiar with the 40-year history of this problem know that one must follow the other. They also knowthe Turks know this, and I have spelt it out in evidence to the Foreign Affairs Committeethat a country cannot achieve membership of the European Union if it does not recognise another country sitting at the table. [Interruption.] As a matter of fact, these issues must be resolved well before then.
Sir Menzies Campbell (North-East Fife) (LD): It would be churlish not to congratulate the Foreign Secretary and the Minister for Europe on their considerable efforts to ensure that a proper settlement was reached. They proved yet again the well-known dictum that 36 hours is a long time in European Union politics.
It is obviously welcome that Croatia has agreed to provide full co-operation. The bringing to justice of alleged war criminals from the Balkans is unfinished business that must be prosecuted with as much vigour as possible. I hope that the Foreign Secretary will excuse me if I borrow an expression from the Ministry of Defence. The lateness of the indication that full co-operation was available reminds me of the just in time procurement principle adopted by Her Majesty's Government at the Ministry of Defence.
The Foreign Secretary referred to good faith, and I am he sure that he agrees that it must apply to both sides. As far as members of the European Union are concerned, there should be no artificial barriers, no unexpected hurdles and no cavilling technicalities. If Turkey fulfils the criteria it is entitled to accession. As for Turkey itself, I hope that we will make it clear from the outset that economic qualification is not enough, and that pluralism, the rule of law and freedom of speech must be realities, not merely aspirations.
|Next Section||Index||Home Page|