Dutch Say Turkey Needs Better Human Rights to Join EU

AMSTERDAM (Reuters)–Dutch Development Cooperation Minister Eveline Herfkens said at the weekend Turkey should not be allowed to enter the European Union without an improvement in its human rights record.

"If its prospective entry is to be credible–Turkey has a lot of work to do on this matter," Eveline Herfkens said in a speech made available on Monday.

Herfkens said Turkey would have to respect the Copenhagen entry criteria which concern democratization and human rights.

"Honoring the Copenhagen criteria begins with a readiness to discuss it. Unfortunately–even that seems to be difficult in Turkey when this concerns the respect for and protection of minorities like the Kurds," she said.

She added she and Foreign Minister Jozias van Aartsen would regard Turkey’s trial of Kurdish leader Abdullah Ocalan as a touchstone case. Already–they viewed the handling of Ocalan’s lawyers as a bad omen.

Herfkens commen’s came at the Geuzenpenning award ceremony for work to promote development and human rights. This year’s award went to Turkey’s Human Rights Association (IHD). Herfkens said the organization worked under extreme conditions and under threat of arrest and torture.

"To prevent physical and legal persecution of the organization and its people–transparency of their work is essential," Herfkens said. Previous Geuzenpenning winners have included Amnesty International and Czech President Vaclav Havel.


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