Council of Europe PACE Interrogates Turkey

Armenian Representative Criticized Turkish Foreign Minister

ISTANBUL–The Istanbul-based Marmara Newspaper has reported that Turkey received harsh criticism during a recent Council of Europe PACE meeting. Participants said Turkey will face troubles if necessary steps are not taken to resolve issues such as human rights–democratic practices–political freedom to Islamic opposition parties–the teaching of the Kurdish language–hunger strikes in Turkish prisons–the occupation of northern Cyprus–and capital punishment.

PACE Chairman–Lord Russell Johnston–expressed satisfaction with three new laws adopted by Turkey–regarding prisons. However–he mentioned the fact that these laws have yet to be implemented. Johnston urged the Turkish government to enforce the laws so that hunger strikes will cease.

Turkish opposition to the teaching of the Kurdish language runs counter to the "Year of Languages" being marked worldwide this year–said Johnston. The Cyprus issue was also touched upon by Johnston–who noted the recent decisions taken by the European Court of Human Rights in regards to Turkish occupation of Cyprus. He called upon Turkey to obey the Court’s ruling.

Also speaking at the meeting was Armenian Deputy Hovhannes Hovhannesian–who also criticized Turkey–mentioning the fact that Armenian is worried by recent statemen’s made by Turkish Foreign Minister Ismail Cem on Turkish-Armenian relations. The Armenian representative said that both the Armenian and Turkish people expect that steps will be taken to bring about peace. Hovhannesian also mentioned that Armenia opposes terrorism. He urged Turkey to assume responsibility for the Armenian Genocide–which has been internationally recognized. "I hope not everyone in your country thinks like Minister Cem," said Hovhannesian.

Turkish representative to the Council of Europe–Volkan Vural–responded by mentioning the fact that he was the first Turkish envoy to visit Armenia. He said that the leadership of Armenia–at the time–told him "We do not want to look to the past–we want to look toward the future for our children." Vural added that those who seek peace should prove that this is what they truly desire. "They must show that they do not occupy the lands of others," said Vural.


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