European Commission Report Fails to Address Armenian Concerns

BRUSSELS, Belgium–The European Commission released its regular report on Turkey Wednesday, which did not take into consideration concerns over Armenian-related issues. The political dimension of the negotiation process has been removed from this document and is now included in a second report, entitled, "Enlargement strategy and the and Main Challenges 2006-2007." In their report, the Commission alleges that "Turkey continues to sufficiently fulfill the Copenhagen political criteria," and that "in 2006, Turkey has continued to make progress in reforms," pointing out, however, that "the pace has slowed down." Taking note of Turkey’s infringement of the Ankara protocol, the Commission decided that "it will make relevant recommendations prior to the December European Council regarding whether Turkey has failed to fulfill its obligations." The document also addressed, for the first time, the EU executive body’s linkage between the possible future enlargement and the implementation of constitutional reforms within the EU institutions. Regarding the Armenian issues, the regular report failed to denounce the denial campaign waged by Turkey, both on its own territory and throughout the Union. Previous mentions of the Genocide in previous reports–characterized euphemistically as "tragic events"–were not reflected in this new document. On freedom of speech, only Article 301 of the Turkish penal code was mentioned. The Commission failed to denounce the other provisions of Turkish law aimed at freedom of speech, especially Article 305, which penalizes the affirmation of the Armenian Genocide. Finally, in the technical chapters related to the Acquis Communautaire, the illegal blockade of Armenia is described using the dismissive terminology, "closed border." The European Armenian Federation is troubled by the Commission’s failure to fairly and meaningfully address Armenian issues, particularly the issue of Turkey’s denial of the Armenian Genocide. "The Commission’s report, most notably it failure to challenge Turkey’s many restrictions of freedom of speech, represents a true setback in terms of the credibility of this European institution, particularly in light of its eagerness to criticize France for its law penalizing the denial of the Armenian genocide," stated Hilda Tchoboian, the Chairperson of the European Armenian Federation. The Federation announced that the European citizens it represents expect the Commission to fairly and honestly perform its task of accurately assessing Turkey’s progress, without bowing to political pressures. "Otherwise, European public opinion will turn against the Commission’s double standards," added Tchoboian. The Federation also denounces the arrogance of the Turkish leaders who attempt to force Europe to abandon its values. "The talks over Turkey’s candidacy have devolved from a negotiation into a race to see which side can walk away from European values," she concluded

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