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Home arrow newsitems arrow EU echoes Sarkozy proposal for a common Economic + Security area for Turkey (+Russia), no accession

EU echoes Sarkozy proposal for a common Economic + Security area for Turkey (+Russia), no accession

Written by ACM
Thursday, 07 May 2009
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    EU Rapporteur on Enlargment Strategy, maistream German MEP Elmar Brok, speaking to "EuroFora", welcomed the proposal made earlier this week by French President Nicolas Sarkozy for the EU to"start Now Talks with Turkey to create a common Economic and Security area", instead of full Accession, at a period when Ankara looks more and more unfit and/or unwilling to respect EU conditions.

    - "For Europe to have strong Political will, it must stop dilutiing itself in an endless Enlargement. It must have borders...Diversities enrich, on the condition that they don't undermine European Cohesion, and don't weaken EU Unity", Sarkozy stressed.
    
    - "Countries like Turkey share a part of common destiny with Europe, with which they have a vocation to build a Privileged Relation, to be closely associated, but not to become Member of the EU"  : "Noone respects his friends by telling them lies. Noone respects his friends by making them promises that will be never kept", he added.

    That's why "we'd better start, from now, negotiating with Turkey to create a common Economic and Security area", Sarkozy proposed.

Significantly, the French President was repeatedly and largely applauded by EU citizens, 3 times, when he made the Turkey point, (strategically placed between Europe's "Political Will" and its cultural heritage, historically open to mutually enriching dialogue with all the World, but never diluted).

    - "We could propose such a great ambition also to Russia, which must not be percieved as an Adversary of Europe, but as a Partner. Thus, we'd create a wide area, of more than 800 Million inhabitants, sharing the same Security, the same Prosperity", he concluded.

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    Sarkozy's move was anounced at the eve of a Franco-German Top meeting with Chancellor Angie Merkel in Berlin on Sunday, to jointly launch the EU Elections campain, after an EU Summit at nearby Prague, to launch a new kind of relations, called "Eastern Partnership", with neighboring countries such as Urkaine, Belarus, Moldova, Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaidjan, etc, (to which Russia, reportedly, is not - and does not want to be - included).

    As for Ukraine, which has already expressed her wish to join the EU in future, "Kiev will have a special place, and a very important role to play", replied earlier this week in Strasbourg, to an "EuroFora" question EU Chairman in office , Czech vice-Prime Minister Alexander Vodra.

    - "This direction is more Realistic for Turkey than Accession negotiations", reacted immediately EU Parliament's Rapporteur for Enlargment Strategy, mainstream German MEP Elmar Brok, commenting Sarkozy's idea for "EuroFora"

     Particularly "as far as it concerns the respect of EU Rules by both sides", he added, hinting at Turkey's now obvious inability and/or unwillingness to abide with EU Acquis, EU Commitments (fex. on Cyprus, etc), and European Democracy/Human Rights rules. (Comp. infra).

    Brok added that, in his view, a similar proposal might be made also to Ukraine and other neighbouring Countries, regardless if they have, or not, a "European vocation". This would not necessarily mean that there couldn't be any accession prospects at all." for all the countries that might be included in this area, according to Brok.  But it's preferable, particularly for Turkey, "because it's a more Realistic approach than full Membership".

    On this point, Sarkozy's proposal, (which he'll share with German Chancellor Merkel), seems more crystal-clear.

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    - "Turkey does not fullfil EU Criteria, and will never fullfil EU Criteria" on Human Rights, Democracy and Rule of Law. "Some have been lying to Ankara, but we must tell the Truth, and have honest and close relations with her", said meanwhile to "EuroFora" on the same issue also the President of EU Parliament's largest Group of MEPs (ChristianDemocrats/EPP), Joseph Daul.
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"Hot" Debate at EU Parliament reveals CHANGE of mood towards "Suspension" of EU - Tukey talks.
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    Earlier this week, many MEPs, and even some of those who were previously in favor of Turkey's controversial EU bid, strongly criticized the persistance and even aggravation of serious Human Rights violations in the country, that ECHR continues to "unanimously" condemn ":

      - "After winning a big victory in the latest Local Elections, the pro-Kurdish party DTP almost doubled its Elected Mayors from 52 to 98", but afterwards "more than 400 politicians were thrown to Prison and prosecuted" by the Turkish Authorities, denounced on behalf of the ChristianDemocrat/EPP Group, Belgian MEP Frieda Brepoels.

     At the same time, "more than 1.500 Children are closed in Turkish Prisons", she added. "What will the EU Commission do" against these facts ?

- "Turkey appears to be at greater Distance away from Copenhagen Criteria after 4 Years of accession Negotiations, than when they started !", denounced on behalf of the Liberal Group, German MEP Alexander Lambsdorf.    

"On the central issue of Press Freedom, Critical Journalists face obstacles for their accreditation, others are prosecuted, condemned, fined and/or jailed, Media blocked or closed", he denounced.   

 - "EU Made 2 grave Mistakes with Turkey : To start accession negotiations, and to continue them", despite everything, criticized Dutch MEP Bastian Belder, on behalf of the Ind/Dem group.

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- "A 14 year old boy is in the Coma after being hit by a Turkish Policeman. Another 14 years boy died falling into a River to escape from Turkish Police. 2 Human beings were killed on April by the Turkish Police's fire against demonstrators. 185 Children are in prison at Diyarbakir. Hundredrs of democratically Elected politicians and activists of DTP Party have been arrested. More than 207 judicial procedures were launched against the DTP. (etc). All this started when the DTP won many democratic victories at the Local Elections on the End of March 2009, while Mr Erdogan's AKP Party was losing grip over the Kurdish regions. Once again, Turkey sends a message that it doesn't really want a Political Solution of the Kurdish problem inside the democratic system, denounced German MEP Feneleca UCA on behalf of the EuroLeft Group.   

 - "It's obvious that Turkey is a country with very Grave Problem of democratisation :  We have 15.000 Children in Prison.: Hundreds of Arrests with dubious accusations. The Kurdish and Armenian Problems have not been resolved. Priests and Missionaires were murdered these last 2 Years, etc. The Number of Problems is without end. : It's scandalous to exclude Bielorussia, a European Country, and to claim that Turkey will enter the EU !", criticized Italan MEP Roberti Fiore (Right).


    "Some Lobbies absolutely want Turkey's entry in Europe. But nobody can deny that there is a problem, when Cyprus, an EU Member, has part of its Territory Occupied by a Candidate Country, which contines its Occupation and Domination, exerting an absolutely Anti-Democratic force on  the People of the island".

    "Thus, inevitably, will emerge in the Consience of the European People the need for a Decision Contrary to the entry of Turkey in the EU !" "Turkey was always opposed to Europe in History. ...Its entry would mean the loss of any European Identity", Fiore added.

    - For German ChristianDemocrat MEP Richard Seeber, "it's obvious, from all these Facts, that Turkey should be brought "closer", but NOT "IN" the EU !"

    "The list of unresolved Problems has not become shorter. .. On Human Rights and Democracy, control of the Military, etc. Turkey still has a very, very long road to go before it approaches European standards", while "it has not even signed the UN Convention against Torture". EU Commission must become much more strict", he concluded.

    - "The recent Victory of DTP at the Kurdish Regions of Turkey proves that it is democratically popular. But, instead of starting Negotiations with the DTP, on the contrary, Erdogan replied with more Oppression, more Police, more Autoritarianism, more Imprisonments", denounced Italian EuroLeft MEP Vittorio Agnoletto.

    "Our Group (EuroLeft) wants to launch a very Strong Political message to Erdogan : Eithet he starts tio search a negotiated Political Solution to the Kurdish Problem as a matter of Priority, or, otherwise, we ask to SUSPEND the Accession NEGOTIATIONS with the E.U. !", concluded a former supporter of Turkey's controversial EU bid..

    - "Turkey still remains far away from European Values : Cyprus remains a country under Military Occupation for 35 Years, contrary to International Law. The situation of Kurds does not ameliorate. Relations with Greeks and Armenians are constantly under Pressure. Religious Minorities are oppressed and the rights of various Minorities trumbed underfoot, (etc), in front of a blatantly Indifferent EU Commission, which persists to push for the Accession of such a Country inside the EU", denounced French MEP Patrick Louis (Ind/Dem)    
    => "So, let's be Frank : Any attempt to integrate Turkey must be made with due respect of European Democracy, i.e. by REFERENDUM!", he concluded.

     - "It was absolutely wrong to hope that ..  by being nice to Turkey this country will change its Kemalic Fascism into Democratic-like behaviour". In fact, "Democratic reforms in Turkey have been moving with the pace of a 3-legged Turtle !.. The Governing regime in Turkey has proven itself totally Incapable and Unwilling to get its country into the state of a 21st-century Civilisation", denounced Cyprus' Liberal MEP Marios Matsakis.
    
    "The vast Majority of the European Citizens we represent have run out of patience. We've had enough. Commissioner, the "carrot" technique failed .... The time has now come to use the stick !", he concluded.
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    - British Liberal MEP Andres Duff was alone to find all his collegues MEPs "rather ..fickle on Turkey", as he said..  Duff found the "Ergenekon affair" as a "welcome sign"  that "is starting" the "cleansing of the stables" and "attack (againsty the ) deep corruption inside parts of the Turkish State".

    - Only a controversial Turkish businesman from Germany, Vural Öger, speaking on behalf of the "Socialist Group", was rather anxious of Erdogan's reported attempts to at least unearth a few Violent Extremists hidden under the Nationalistic Turkic organisation "Ergenekon". While also accused ...the EU to be responsible (!) for the deadlocks in Turkey's so called "Democratisation process", (desperately longer than that of Spain's swift from Franquism, Eastern Europe's swift from Stalinism to the EU, etc)..

    He was almost echoed, on behalf of the "Green" Group, (chaired by a Turkish origin MP in Germany),  by Dutch MEP, Jost Langendjik, Chair of EU - Turkey JPC, who went as far as to ... find even "some .. improvements" in the ways in which Turkey f.ex. continues to oppress demonstrators on May 1st, adding a mild criticism.
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    -  "The Critical Yardstick" are "Human Rights", replied to MEPs EU Commissioner Oli Rehn.   

 - "The Pace of negotiations with Turkey will ..depend on the progress and intensity of the reforms enhancing fundamental freedoms , .Progress in the ..negotiations will depend on whether there is serious progress in, and .. implementation of ..reforms enhancing fundamental freedoms, human rights and democratic secularism. These are enshrined in EU Treaty and in our common European Values", he said.


    - "It feels like two steps forward and one step Backward", the outgoing Socialist Finnish EU Commissioner found, nevertheless. "We (EU) must be Fair and Firm", he added. "We have to be fair in the sense of maintaining the EU perspective as the critical Driver of reforms in the country, ..At the same time, we have to be firm by applying Rigorous Conditionality, especially as regards fundamental freedoms and democratic principles;  "I am concerned about Media freedom ..in Turkey", he reiterated, (but without adding anything concrete).....
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    - "Between 14 and 18 April 2009, more than 200 officials and members of the Democratic Society Party have been arrested", observed the EU Commissioner. 

   
    But, "the Commission cannot interfere in ongoing legal cases", Rehn claimed. "We support the fight against terrorism", "conducted by respecting human rights and fundamental freedoms". "Condemning the use of force and violence is a Duty for all Parties involved. All must..be committed to peaceful means and peaceful means only", he added

    Rehn simply will "continue to encourage the Turkish authorities to address the problems of the South-East", and "to ensure cultural diversity", promissing anew to "continue to monitor the situation ..and .report in our upcoming progress Report", i.e. Six (6) Months later.. In the meantime, the jailed Mayors and Children got Rehn's promise to "..continue to follow up developments", asking to respect "the rights of Defendants", (in jail)..

    Astonished Strasbourg observers heard Rehn make a dubious "joke" by assimilating the evening "debate on Democracy in Turkey" with the ..."Wine Reform during the 2nd half of Arsenal v Manchester United", claiming that this was "a snapshot of Europe in 2009" !...
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ECHR "unanimously" condemns Turkey for "Unfair Trials" and for "Violating Freedom of Press"
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    Meanwhile, ECHR "unanimously" condemned Turkey anew for "Unfair Trials" and for "violating the Freedom of Press", in a way which highlighted differences between the Turkish and the European Democracies :

    * Meanwhile, ECHR "unanimously" condemned Turkey for throwing a person to Jail for more than ...12 Years (accused only to be "member of an illegal organisation"), after an "Unfair Trial", by a tribunal with legitimate "Doubts" for its "independence and impartiality", and on the sole basis of a so-called "confession" taken in custody while the victim was illegaly "deprived of any assistance by a Lawer", (and afterwards denied).. ("Celic case).
        
    * At another judgement issued this same week, ECHR also "unanimously" condemned Turkey for "violating the Freedom of Expression" of a Monthly Newspaper Editor, persecuted and repeatedly condemned to Prison (later trasnformed to Heavy Fines), for publishing 2 articles strongly critical of Ankara's methods vis a vis kurdish women and other people.     

For the European) Court, the accused texts only launched "Political Calls", which "cannot be taken as calls to use violence". F.ex. a "political speech" which simply includes terms such as "revolution" or "just struggle", "was not equivalent to "war", and was used in relation to a struggle for the recognition of rights".    

Revealing a Gap between Turkey and European Democracies, ECHR observed that, if "such Political calls are believed to be incompatible with the Turkish State's oppressive legislation, this does not make them contrary to (European) Democratic rules". Because, "such wording is similar to that used by political movements freely expressing their views in other CoE member countries", ECHR denounced, (fex. France's PC, ou le facteur Besancenot, etc, currently candidates to EU Elections) ...

    "The main fact" for ECHR is that Turkey was unable to find "any abstract indicating that the authors might have advised violence, or call to a bloody violence or justified terrorism". "Neither did they .. provoke a deep and irrational hate against identified persons", the Judgement explains.    

Moreover, Turkey was also condemned for "Unfair Trial", mainly because the victim hadn't even been informed about what the Public Prosecutor had claimed against him...     

In conclusion, ECHR ordered Turkey ro pay 7.600 € to the victim for Material and Moral Damages, as well as Costs and expenses. (Affair "Ozer").

More ECHR condemnations for Torture or "Inhuman and degrading treatments" were  pronounced the previous weeks, prolonging an already ...long list of condemnations of such violations by Turkey... 

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EU FUNDS' SUSPENSION "NOT EXCLUDED" : German MEP

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- In these conditions, and if nothing changes, "it's not excluded that at least part of EU FUNDS earmarked to Turkey might be SUSPENDED, if such Grave Human Rights Violations persist or even aggravate", said to "EuroFora" German MEP Ingeborg Grässle, an experimented and influential member of EU Parliament's Committee on Budget Control (COCOBU).    

Grässle, who had already tabled previously an Amendment on EU Budget asking to suspend EU Funds earmarked for Turkey over Democracy, Human Rights and International Law violations, told us that, "in fact, this could be done legally at any moment, even without a specific Clause. Because, as a matter of principle, all EU Agreements with 3rd Countries contain a Human Rights Clause".     

Indeed, a Resolution on EU's Human Rights Policy adopted on Thursday by EU Parliament in Strasbourg, asks for "continued Maximum Vigilance as regards Respect for Human Rights Clauses in the Agreements signed by the EU and its 3rd Country partners", and "calls for this Clause to be systematically accompagnied by a genuine Enforcementt Mechanism".
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    Scientific innovation joined to Faith for Human Rights, Eastern Partnership and fight against the Crisis, but above all, the need to overcome the "Crisis of Trust" from EU Citizens, are the main priorities for new EU Parliament's President, Polish Jerzy Buzek, that a 555-votes-strong majority of MEPs on July 14,  Strasbourg made a living symbol of the fact that, 20 years after the fall of Berlin Wall (1989 - 2009) there is no more an Eastern or Western Europe, but only one Europe, as the head of the largest group of MEPs, ChristianDemocrats/EPP, Joseph Daul, stressed after the event.

    Speaking later to a group of Strasbourg's Journalists, including "EuroFora", the new EU Parliament's President clarified his stance on concrete topical issues, as f.ex. that of Turkey's controversial EU bid, which was one of the main issues of the June 2009 Electoral campain, clearly won by his party of ChristianDemocrats/EPP :  - "At present, Turkey does not fullfil none of EU conditions", he stressed, (See infra).

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    Buzek is well known in Strasbourg and to "EuroFora" as EU Rapporteur for the Framework Program of Scientific Research and Development of Technologies. A Natural Science Professor from the Historic and Religious landmark Polish City of Częstochowa, active in the famous Solidarnosk grass-roots social movement, he served 4 years as Prime Minister (1997-2001), before being elected as MEP in 2004 and 2009, after he brillantly won the latest EU Election at the head of his party (EPP) almost doubling the number of its MEPs from 15 to 28 !

    - "Innovation" and "Energy safety", as well as fight against the "Cimat change", but also "Eastern Partnership", the "Mediterranean", "Strategic partnerships" with Russia, the USA, etc, and the search for "solutions to the Economic Crisis" that EU Citizens "expect" from us, will be his "priorities", announced from the outset the new EU Parliament's President, reminding also that the quest for "Human and Civic Rights" played an important role in his experience with the Solidarnosc grass-roots social movement in Poland's History

    But, the most important of all, is the urgent need to overcome the "Crisis of Trust" between EU Institutions and the People he stressed : - EU "Citizens often don't understand us", denounced Buzek, launcing a call to "do anything for EU Citizens to understand our work" in EU Parliament : "We (MEPs) need to make EU Citizens involved" in "what we are doing every week, in Strasbourg and Brussels", he proposed. Pointing f.ex. to the hot "Debates" with "strong arguments" exchanged between MEPs during the preparation of their Legislative Decisions, in Committees, delivering often hard struggles between initially opposed points of view, long before forging a majority at the final vote, sometimes more than a year..

    Therefore, EU Parliament will be "open to your criticism, for discussion and exchange of views", he promissed to Journalists in Strasbourg.

    In this way, Buzek, in fact, highlighted "EuroFora"s main idea, that we strongly advocate since 1997-2007, to systematicaly and actively involve EU Citizens in public debates during the decision-making process of important EU measures, which affect their lives and the society in which they live, (and not only just a few weeks each 4 or 5 Years at the eve of EU Elections)...
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    This is related also to the symbolic gift that Buzek chose to give to the out-going former EU Parliament's President, Hans Gert Poettering, (2007-2009), his collegue in the ChristianDemocrats/EPP, who brillantly won 2009 EU Elections in Germany : A genuine statute of sainte Barbara crafted in Silesia's black Coal by Polish Miners : Those simple but strong people who fought for social change against some technocrats and bureaucrats disguissed into so-called "real-socialists" of old times. (PHOTO).

    It's enough to have seen a popular open air mass, at Warsaw's center, with many thousands of people, old and young, simple workers and intellectuals mixed together, with references to Poland's history and struggles for survival and liberty, through various ages, (as fex. that organized at the eve of CoE's 2005 panEuropean Heads of State and Government for the beatification of late Pope John-Paul II), in order to understand what such symbols mean..

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    But, overcoming the "Crisis of Trust" with EU Citizens obviously implies also to rectify any errors done in the past, fex. on Turkey's controversial EU bid, with controversial decisions taken in 1999 and 2004 to give a "candidate" status and to start EU negotiations, provoking an unprecedented series of 3 "No" to EuroReferenda and 3 Majoriy Abstentions in EU Parliament Elections : 1999, 2005 and 2009, (even if the latest one succeeded to decelerate and almost stop the drop of participation rates, opening hopes for vote's revival after an electoral campaign clearly critical to Turkey's claims in several mainstream EU countries)
    
    Therefore, Buzek was faced with manifold critical Questions on EU Enlargement, most of them citting concrete examples of certain political problems  :  But his replies were almost always given as a matter of general principle :

    F.ex. Questioned on the suspension of EU - Croatia talks because of a Border conflict with EU Member Slovenia, Buzek prefered to speak about principles :

- "We know that during Enlargement, the process can be blocked by failure to resolve this kind of issues",  This concerns also other enlargments' cases", and "these rules are always in force" he warned.


But Buzek avoided to directly reply to a queston on "French and German EPP' calls to define the Borders of Europe", as a German journalist asked him by making a reference to French President Nicolas Sarkozy, and German Chancellor Angie Merkel's, critical statements on Turkey at the June 2009 Electoral campain.    

- "Concerning Enlargement, there's always the same rules : There have to be Criteria, which have to be respected if a Country wants to join the EU", he started to simply reply.

- "For my country (Poland) it took us 15 Years to fullfil these Criteria", Buzek reminded, indicating, if proportions are kept, that Turkey, fex. would have to spend some 25 years before eventually joining the EU..

- "Countries wishing to join the EU need to Change their Systems", as we (Poland and other former Eastern European Countries) did, he stressed.

- "'For me, meeting the condition of Human Rights is one of the Key conditions for membership in the EU", preferring again to speak from the point of view of General Principles, on the occasion of an untimely question on Serbia (which is not even a candidate yet)...

- "Turkey" has, "first of all", to fullfil (EU) Copenhagen criteria". Bevause, currently, none of them is fullfiled by Turkey", New EU Parliament's President, denounced, speaking later to a group of Journalists, including "EuroFora".

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In particular, on Human Rights :  - "We (EU) can never forget Human Rights", because "this is at the very Foundations of the EU", Buzek added.

On the contrary, when he referred to EU Enlargment for the  "Western Balkans Countries ", Buzek appeared upbeat, finding "promising situations", despite "difficulties" in the Past, since "Countries are queuing to become EU members", and this "generated changes", as he said.

As for Russia, Buzek observed that it was a "very important" country, located "in the same Continent", Europe,  "close to our borders", and "we need eachother". "But Russia' has 'differend poblems : "They claim that their system is Democratic, but rules are differend", and we must be "aware of such differencies", fex. "on Human Rights", that we can't ignore, as he said;

Concerning China, where a journalist observed that the recipient of EU Parliament's latest "Sakharov prize" for freedom of thought is "still in prison", Buzek found that since the 1999 events in Tien Amin square, "we see differencies on Human Rights still today", and expressed his "support" for those who try to ameliorate the situation.

On the contrary, speaking recently to "EuroFora" he strongly supported the idea for an EU - Ukraine cooperation, fex. between Airbus and Antonov, in order to build a  less costly but more performant than the old and problematic A400M, new Military Transport Airplane : - "They (Ukranian Antonov Company) can certainly do it. I'm sure they can. It's a good Idea, and I'd be glad if it was done", he told us. (See : http://www.eurofora.net/newsflashes/news/airbusantonov.html )


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