Thursday, October 05, 2006

EU-Turkey & the Armenian Genocide- Part I

Written by Dr Harry Hagopian
Monday, 24 October 2005
Audere est Facere!
Calls on Turkey to recognise the Armenian Genocide;
considers this recognition to be a pre-requisite for
accession to the European Union; European Parliament
Resolution (28 September 2005).

Image Across much of Europe, the last ten months have
been buzzing with discussions about the Armenian
Genocide. This is not solely because Armenians
worldwide have been commemorating in 2005 the 90th
anniversary of the genocide. Nor is it necessarily
because this gruesome chapter in early 20th century
history awoke the collective conscience of the world
toward recognition. Rather, it is largely due to the
ongoing negotiations regarding Turkey's accession to
the EU. It is inevitable that Armenians, and their
supporters across the Union, have been pressuring
Turkey to come clean on the chapter of their history
that deals with the 'Armenian Question' during WWI,
and have repeatedly requested from their governments
to include the recognition of the genocide as a
precondition in their discussions for Turkish
accession to the EU. Consequently, this Armenian
position has become congruent with that of the
European Parliament as evidenced by its latest
Resolution of 28th September in Strasbourg.

On 3 October 2005, the EU and Turkey finally signed a
negotiating framework that would allow formal talks
and screening processes to begin on Turkish membership
of the European Club. There was the obligatory
last-minute brinkmanship, with Austria demanding the
insertion of an additional clause that referred to
privileged partnership rather than full membership.
However, this objection was overcome with a Croatian
compromise, and the question now is to explore what
happens in the next ten to fifteen years when
negotiations between the EU and Turkey cover the 35
chapters (including judiciary and fundamental rights
as well as justice, freedom and security, in chapters
23 & 24 respectively) and Turkey's need to adapt its
political, economic and social system in such a manner
that it implements 80,000 pages of EU laws. This,
after all, is the EU-Turkey political dossier today,
and the critical period in the years ahead will decide
between an EU that insists upon the candidate country
Turkey to accept the acquis comminautaire of the Union
or a Turkey that dictates more or less its own terms
of accession to the EU.

Principle 6 of the EU Negotiating Framework for Turkey
clearly stipulates that the advancement of
negotiations will be guided by Turkey's progress in
preparing for accession. Such progress would include
the Copenhagen criteria (with the stability of
institutions guaranteeing democracy, the rule of law,
human rights and respect for and protection of
minorities) as much as Turkey's 'unequivocal
commitment to good neighbourly relations and its
undertaking to resolve any outstanding border disputes
in accordance with the United Nations Charter,
including if necessary jurisdiction of the
International Court of Justice'. Olli Rehn, European
Commissioner for Enlargement, told the European
Parliament earlier that "the start of the negotiations
will give a strong push for those in Turkey who want
to reform the country to meet the European values of
rule of law and human rights; they are also a way for
the EU to have leverage on the direction of these

But let me recap for a moment. On 22nd September, I
attended a conference in Brussels entitled December
2004-October 2005: Has Turkey changed? During the
final plenary session, the discussions led to the
unavoidable conclusion that the EU Commission was
doing its utmost to justify the start of accession
talks despite an implicit admission that Turkey had
not yet met all the criteria for the start-up of
negotiations. This EU position could prove
disconcerting if it were to accentuate the yawning
chasm between the political decisions adopted by the
EU institutions (namely the Commission and Council)
and the European population across the whole Union.
After all, a recent Eurobarometer poll revealed that
only 35% of EU citizens support Turkish membership,
and yet the EU institutions are not heeding to the
concerns of their constituencies but are proving why
the 'disconnect' is growing alarmingly larger between
an institutional and bureaucratic Union and its
peoples. In fact, this phenomenon became abundantly
evident when France and the Netherlands rejected the
EU draft constitution on 29 May and 1 June 2005
respectively as an instrument - with much merit, I
still maintain - that was nonetheless being imposed
upon the European peoples without adequate
consultation, coherence, transparency or feedback. (To
be continued 25/10/05)

Dr Harry Hagopian

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