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By Safa Haeri
Posted Saturday, May 1, 2004

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French President Jacques Chirac gestures during his press conference at the Elysee Palace in Paris Thursday April 29, 2004.

By Safa Haeri

PARIS, First of May (IPS) French President Jacques Chirac, in his address to the nation, departing from earlier position, virtually expressed his opposition to the entry of Turkey into the European Union that, as from today, has increased from 15 to 25 countries, including ten nations of Eastern Europe.

He was, in a way, helped by Ankara, after the Turkish High Security Court confirmed on 21 April the condemnation to 15 years of imprisonment of Mrs. Leyla Zana, a former Kurdish deputy and three of her colleagues, namely Hatip Dicle, Orhan Dogan and Selim Sadak.

In 1991, in a Turkey that did not recognise any right to the 12 million Kurds living in this country, described as “Mountain people” instead of Kurds, 22 Kurdish politicians, including Mrs. Zana and the three co-accused forced their way into the Parliament thanks to an odd alliance between the HEP, a pro-Kurds party and the Social Democrat SHP.


In 1991 Turkey did not recognise any right to the 12 million Kurds living in this country, described as “Mountain people” instead of Kurds.


However, the partnership between the two parties did not last long and in 1993, Mrs. Zana and several other Kurdish lawmakers had deserted HEP for DEP, a new Kurdish formation.

But the new female representative went one step too far when, at the end of her oath, she added some words in Kurdish, expressing her wishes to see “fraternity and equality established and developed between the Kurds and the Turks”.

Not only the use of Kurdish language was banned in the Administration and at the parliament, but at the time, the war between Turkish forces and the PKK was still raging in the southern provinces of Turkey dominated by the Kurds, most of them supporting the secessionist, Stalinist organisation led by Abdullah Ocalan, arrested three years ago in Kenya by Turkish special units helped by Israeli secret agents.

Accused of “links to an outlawed organisation”, in this case the Turkish Kurdish Workers Party, or PKK, the four lawmakers were arrested and jailed in 1994.

However, the Turkish authorities agreed to order a revision of the case after, on 2001, the European Court of Human Rights ruled out that the accused had not access to a “fair and just” trial.

“We have always underlined that in order to protect human rights, one needs a justice that is both independent and impartial.”


“We have always underlined that in order to protect human rights, one needs a justice that is both independent and impartial. But the prosecutors and judges of the (Turkish) High Security Court not only are not independent, but are also chosen because of the very way of their thinking and interpretation of laws. This is a very serious and fundamental problem”, Ms. Nicole Pope, the correspondent of the influential French daily “Le Monde” in Turkey considered as one of the best and most serious analysts of Turkish affairs quoted Mr. Husnu Ondul, the president of the Turkish Association of Human Rights as having explained the new ruling.

The sentence, pronounced at a time that Turkey was expecting the start of a new round of negotiations about its controversial entry into the European Union created outrage in European capitals as well as both the European Parliament and Council, most of them more or less reluctant to see this Muslim nation granted the same rights as other European nations, preferring, as some European leaders suggests, giving Ankara a “special status”.

According to a EU spokesman, the judgement could “seriously” affect the decision of the European leaders for fixing to the end of this year the start of the EU-Turkish entry negotiations, at a time that the campaign for European Parliament is exacerbating passions, giving many politicians opposed to the Turkish entry an occasion to air their views, as seen in France recently.

Mr. Philippe de Villiers, a right wing lawmaker, talking during a debate on a French television about the subject of the Turkish entry into Europe, openly said that Turkey was not a European nation and if it enters the Union, with its 70 million population of Muslims, it would overweight countries like Germany, France or the United Kingdom.


“Where are the natural boundaries of Christian Europe? With Iraq, Syria or Iran?”


“Where are the natural boundaries of Christian Europe? Iraq, Syria, Iran? Just because a tiny portion of Turkey is in Europe? And why not also invite into Europe countries of Maghreb, like Morocco, Algeria or Tunisia that by all means are closer to us?”, he argued, expressing the views of many of his countrymen considering Turkey more as an Asian and Muslim nation alien to Europe.

The reaction of European left to the confirmation of the sentence against the Kurdish lawmakers was even more blatant. “The new trial of Leyla Zana discredits more Turkey’s will to conform itself with democratic criteria of the European Union”, said a statement from the French Socialist Party, adding that the sentence would make it more difficult the entry of Turkey into the European Union.

To prevent people like Mr. de Villiers taking the advantage from the situation in the one hand and alienating Turkey and stopping the modernising process started by the moderate Prime Minister Recep Tayyib Erdogan on the other, the French ruling party UMP or the CDU in Germany urged European decision-makers to offer Ankara, for the time being, a “privileged partnership” instead a full membership, a process that would take several years even if everything goes as planned, and after the entry of the “last wagon” containing Romania and Bulgaria.

“It is important that Europeans, in their dealing with turkey, think of long term strategy by helping and encouraging development of democracy in Turkey, fighting terrorism or limiting the international routes of drug dealers. If the (entry) negotiations fails to start as promised by European leaders, this would strengthen the militarists in Turkey”, Mr. Ondul warned. ENDS TURKEY EU 1504



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