HARD STRUGGLES OVER TURKEY REPORT IN EP
By Selcuk Gultasli - Emre Demir, Strasbourg

Zaman Online, Turkey
Sept 28 2006

The European Parliament (EP) is preparing to vote one of the most
critical Turkey reports in its history as parliamentarians who approve
Turkey's membership into the European Union are making last-minute
attempts to add more balance to the report.

E.U. Commissioner for Enlargement Olli Rehn, in a speech on the
report, criticized Turkey but also declared that the European Union
needed Turkey.

Taking the floor at the closing session, Louis Michel, another
commissioner, emphasized the recognition of the Armenian "genocide"
could not be a precondition for Turkey's accession to the European
Union.

Some parliamentarians displayed racist attitudes during the debate.

Boguslaw Rogalski, a Polish MP, claimed Turkey could not be a bridge
of peace among civilizations but it could only be a door to terrorists.

Belgian MP Philip Claeys claimed Turkey was an Islamic state and it
was a mistake to start negotiations with this country.

In addition to the Socialist Group, the second-largest in the EP,
the Liberals and Greens keep the option of a 'no' vote open unless
the report became balanced.

Liberal Democrat Group Leader Graham Watson, in a statement in
Strasbourg yesterday, said they were not satisfied with the current
state of the report and considered all options including "no."

Socialist Group Vice-President Jan Marinus Wiersma warned Turkey
would move away from the European Union if the report passed in its
current state, and Turkey-EU Joint Parliamentary Commission Co-Chair
Joost Lagendijk, speaking on behalf of the Greens, announced they
would abstain from voting unless the necessary changes were made.

Rehn Says EU Must Comply with Pacta Sunt Servanda

Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn clarified European Commission
President Jose Manuel Barrosso's remarks that caused unease in Turkey
in the last two days.

Stating the European Union must comply with the principle of pacta
sund servanda and keep its promises to Turkey, Rehn said "I am tired
of warning Turkey on Article 301."

Rehn reemphasized Turkey's commitments to Cyprus.

However, Rehn's remarks gained more importance in view of the MPs'
generally unbalanced criticisms.

Rehn said Turkey's membership will be a "threshold for its children
and grandchildren." Reiterating Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip
Erdogan's words, "If not with the Copenhagen Criteria, we will continue
our way with the Ankara criteria," Rehn said that the reform process
should continue for the Turkish people.

Louis Michel, European Commissioner for Development and Humanitarian
Aid, made the closing remarks of the EP debate instead of Rehn, and
stated the Armenian genocide could not be a precondition for Turkey's
membership and warned this would mean a change in the rules.

"If you consider Iraq, Iran, Middle East and the problems on energy,
you will see what a key player, what an indispensable ally Turkey is
for us.

Ahmet Turk and Aysel Tugluk, co-chairs of the Democratic Society Party
(DTP), held meetings in the EP before the voting.

The DTP delegation met EP President Josep Borrell and Rehn Tuesday
morning, and the timing of the delegation's visit attracted notice.

The visit was synchronous with the case against 56 DTP mayors and
the DTP's call for a ceasefire with the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK)
terrorist network.

Rehn is reported to have allowed only five minutes for the DTP
delegation.

Turk, in a news conference supported by the Leftist Group in the EP,
said the ceasefire call they made was their "last chance."

It was being discussed that Christian Democrats will submit a
motion of amendment for the draft due to the reactions against Pope
Benedict XVI's remarks given by Erdogan and Turkish Religious Affairs
Directorate Head Ali Bardakoglu.

A supplement was attached to the draft on the pope's visit to Turkey,
but the proposal includes quite positive elements.

"It is hoped Pope Benedict XVI's visit to Turkey will contribute in
the interreligious and intercultural dialogue between the Christian
world and the Muslim world," the proposal made by MPs Antonio Tajani,
Charles Tannock and Camiel Eurlings read.