Leading European Parliament Candidates Address Turkey EU Accession

LYON (CDCA)–Leading candidates for European Parliament elections from the southeast of France addressed the topic of Turkey’s accession to the European Union at a Europe Day event organized by the Armenian National Committee of France and the Armenian Revolutionary Federation.

Speaking at the May 9 event held at the Bourse du Travail in Lyon–were Thierry Cornillet (Union of French Democrats)–Grard Benhamias (Greens)–and Patrick Louis (Union for France).

The debate was moderated by France Inter Radio journalist Frederic Bourgade–with the participation of Think Tank Europe 2002’s Franck Bianchieri–and Hilda Tchoboian from the European Armenian Federation.

Filmed statemen’s by Franoise Grossette (Union for the Presidential Majority) and Michel Rocard (Socialist Party) were aired; the two candidates were absent due to the launch of party electoral campaigns.

Bianchieri addressed the growing concern and opposition to Turkey’s accession he has noticed while moderating debates in 100 European cities.

Citing geographical–cultural and demographic reasons to an audience of more than a thousand–Cornillet and Louis declared their official opposition to Turkey’s accession–promising to uphold the position if elected to the European Parliament.

Likewise–Grossette–whose party recently dramatically shifted its position on the issue–favored a privileged partnership status for Turkey.

From the left–Benhamias from the Greens party said Turkey should be integrated [into the European Union] quickly–and that the Turkish democrats be trusted to improve the Human Rights situation–and to recognize the Armenian Genocide–which would come about from democratization.

Rocard discussed the strategic importance of Turkish accession based on its ethnic and cultural links with Turkic-speaking countries of central Asia that have oil reserves from which Europe could benefit; according to him–the recognition of the Armenian Genocide would naturally come when Turkey would feels "ridicule" for its denial.

Tchoboian recalled that the European Parliament–at the urging of the European Armenian Federation–began to consider the genocide and blockade issues–only in 2000–when examination of Turkey’s candidacy.

Citing the Morillon and Lamassoure reports–she denounced the inconsistencies between the declaration of parties opposed to Turkish accession–then–and their refusal to speak firmly and truthfully to Turkey in the European Parliament annual reports.

Regarding the position of the Left–Tchoboian refuted the exemplary nature of Turkey’s accession for the Muslim world based on its poor relations with Arab neighbors. She also denounced the secularism argument–saying that in Turkey it is not based neither on plurality–not the separation of religion and State–rather on the Turkish State’s protection of the Muslim religion–which became the majority religion after the extermination of Turkey’s non-Muslim citizens.

"If Europe does not require Turkey to adhere to its values as a pre-condition to accession–Europe will be forced to integrate Turkey’s denialist values–and to give free rein to the denial of other genocides," affirmed the Chairperson of the European Armenian Federation.

She emphasized that beyond a formal recognition–Europe must push for Genocide reparations–and particularly require from Turkey–guarantees of security to Armenia and to Armenian people.

"Turkey must promise to abolish its aggressive policy towards Armenia; this policy is not the act of a regime–but follows from a State doctrine that has continued under military–civil–and Islamist regimes," concluded Tchoboian.

Concluding the first portion of the event–ANC France member Georges Kepenekian declared that Armenia’s would remain watchful–and not give parties carte blanche on matters that remain at the center of attention for European citizens. The second portion of the event included a concert by the Bratsch band.

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