The annual report of the European Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee on Turkey condemns the multiple human rights violations and restriction of freedom of speech which have taken place under Erdogan’s leadership.
Harut Shirinyan – Public Relations and Communications Officer at the European Armenian Federation for Justice and Democracy (EAFJD), told ARMENPRESS that this report can inevitably raise the level of political tension between the EP and Turkey.
-Mr. Shirinyan, on February 20 the European Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee adopted its annual report on Turkey. What points will you outline from the report?
-Overall, the report strongly criticizes and condemns the numerous human rights violations, restriction of freedom of speech, political persecutions and arrests, as well as the pressures on ethnic, religious and sexual minorities which have taken place under Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s leadership. The report, in particular, condemns the persecutions against opposition figures, human rights advocates and journalists outside Turkey. In addition, the European Parliament doesn’t see any well-grounded reason for constantly extending the state of emergency in Turkey after the 2016 failed military coup attempt.
-Taking into considering these developments, the European Parliament decided to reaffirm its decision of the last year, in order words to urge the European Commission to stop Turkey’s accession talks to the EU. What developments can this lead to?
-This decision will inevitably raise the level of political tension between the two sides. The solution is possible only when the Turkish government makes real reforms in the aforementioned fields.
I would like to state that this report on Turkey, as well as all those reports staring from 2015, directly refer to the resolution on the recognition of the Armenian Genocide by the European Parliament in April, 2015. This report is very vital for the EAFJD because by this the EP with its report on Turkey every year reaffirms the recognition of the Genocide in reality and again, indirectly sends a signal to Turkey, as well as all EU member states to officially recognize the Armenian Genocide.
-It seems the report also touches upon the issue of the preservation of cultural heritage of national minorities in Turkey. What message does it contain?
-It’s worth stating that by this report the European Parliament calls on Turkey to respect its legal agreements by preserving the cultural heritage of the national minorities. The talk is about the preservation of historical structures and property of Greeks, Assyrians and Armenians. The report also says that Turkey must prepare the concrete list of all damaged and destroyed properties that belong to these communities.
-There is also a reference to the Armenia-Turkey relations in the report, and it seems, an equality sign is again put here. What would you say about this?
-Regarding the Armenia-Turkey relations, the report points the two states, which cannot be understood, and encourages to be consistent in the normalization process of the bilateral relations. And it also mentions the future economic benefits for the two countries in case of opening the borders.
But here I want to note that it would be more logical and right if this section of the EP report was addressed only to Turkey, by outlining the latter’s responsibility for today’s situation and urging it to adopt more serious attitude, express readiness to start talks in the relations with Armenia over an agreement without any precondition, and in particular, to refuse from presenting any precondition on the Karabakh conflict.
In any case Turkey is aware that joining the EU is unrealistic and impossible if it has not normalized the relations with all states of the region, especially when some of the EU territories are still under Turkish rule unfortunately.
Interview by Anna Gziryan