Sweden Says More Should be Done in Turkey

STOCKHOLM (Reuters)–Sweden said on Saturday it welcomed Turkey’s signing of two UN conventions as a step in the right direction towards improving its human rights record.

But Ankara has much to do in this regard before it can realize its wish to join the European Union–Foreign Minister Anna Lindh said.

“Signing is the start–but Turkey now has to change its laws in accordance with the conventions and actually apply them,” said Lindh–a consistent critic of Turkey’s rights record particularly towards its ethnic Kurds.

Last week Volkan Vural–Turkish Ambassador to the United Nations–signed the 1966 UN convention on economic–social and cultural rights and another on civil and political rights–the two pillars of the world body’s human rights regime.

The move was seen as a breakthrough towards ending the suppression of the languages and culture of Kurdish and other minority ethnic groups.

Sweden–which wants to broaden membership of the EU when it takes over the rotating presidency in January–says that Turkey must make substantial and visible progress on human rights before it is taken seriously as a candidate.

Pierre Schori–Swedish Ambassador to the UN–said signing the conventions was a belated but encouraging step by Turkey.

“Turkey has had 34 years to sign the conventions on human rights and this shows they have a serious wish to conform with EU standards by signing them now,” Schori said.

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