Framework for Turkey’s EU Accession Negotiations Garners Sharp Criticism

Hundreds of European organizations and foreign leaders call on European Union to integrate the Armenian genocide in Turkey’s negotiations

BRUSSELS (EAFJD)-Over 350 associations and key leaders of European civil society from 21 countries–responded to an appeal by the European Armenian Federation (EAFJD) to include Armenian genocide recognition in Turkey’s European Union (EU) negotiations for accession.

The initiative–launched last April as the world marked the 90th anniversary of the Armenian genocide–garnered support from groups representing Armenian genocide survivors and their descendants–associations for the defense of victims of genocide and crimes against humanity–human rights groups–member organizations of the Charter of European Armenia’s–as well as key European political figures.

The European appeal urged the EU to integrate calls by national and European parliamen’s to include genocide recognition in the framework of negotiations.

The EAFJD noted that on Tuesday July 5–the European Parliament’s Christian Democrat French delegation called on the Council "to modify the mandate of negotiations of the [European] Commission," notably "to reinforce the exigencies of Union on essential topics such as freedom of religion–penal legislation–the recognition of Cyprus–and the recognition of the Armenian genocide."

In a July 5 press release issued by the French delegation to the European Parliament–Jacques Toubon–Vice President of the EU-Turkey Delegation–accused the Commission of harboring an "irresponsible attitude" which was "totally devoid of reality."

He affirmed that "the official framework of negotiations essentially engages Turkey on its terms and not the criteria laid down by the [European] Union."

During the presentation of the negotiations framework to the European Parliament Committee on Foreign Affairs (AFET)–Olli Rehn–the EU Commissioner responsible for enlargement–revealed that a program geared to promote "dialogue between Turkish and European civil societies" was in fact intended to improve European public opinion about Turkey’s accession to the EU; 40 million euros will be allocated to that program in 2006 alone.

"We would encourage the EU to utilize the criteria established by the European Parliament–adopted since the beginning of Turkey’s accession process–instead of wasting funds trying to improve Turkey’s image in Europe at the expense of European tax dollars," stated European Armenian Federation Chairwoman–Hilda Tchoboian.

"It is regrettable that the Commission would so openly ignore the wishes of 450 million European citizens and their 730 elected representatives. It is an abnormal and dangerous situation for democracy. Encouraged by the support of political parties and leaders in the Union–we will again submit the European appeal and the signatories list to the European Council in the days leading up to the October 3 negotiations," concluded Tchoboian.

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