Jonathan Fryer

Writer, Lecturer, Broadcaster and Liberal Democrat Politician

Posts Tagged ‘Copenhagen criteria’

European Liberal Democrats Back Turkey’s EU Accession

Posted by jonathanfryer on Friday, 20th November, 2009

European Liberal Democrats, meeting at the annual congress of the ELDR in Barcelona, this morning passed a resolution (which I proposed) stating clearly our support for Turkish accession to the European Union, providing Ankara fulfils all of the so-called Copenhagen criteria for membership. This is in sharp contrast to the negative comments about Turkey´s EU vocation made recently by conservative leaders such as President Nicolas Sarkozy of France and Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany, as well as the newly appointed President of the European Council, Herman Van Rompuy.

The resolution noted the progress that Turkey has been making with regard to the Copenhagen criteria — as acknowledged in last month’s report from the European Commission — while pointing out that more needs to be achieved in areas such as freedom of expression and the media. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s initiatives towards resolving Turkey’s longstanding Kurdish question were welcomed.

The resolution — which was finalised in consultation with the German Liberal FDP (now in charge of the Federal Republic’s Foreign Ministry) — also called on the European Union to do more to facilitate a settlement of the Cyprus dispute and to end the isolation of Turkish Cypriots.

Link: www.eldr.org

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Human Rights, Turkey and the EU

Posted by jonathanfryer on Thursday, 19th March, 2009

This evening I was one of the speakers at a big meeting at the LSE, focussing on aspects of the European media’s coverage of Turkey’s progress (or otherwise) towards EU membership. Quentin Peel of the Financial Times was in the Chair at the event, which was organised by the British-Turkish Business Network, BizNET. The other panelists were William Horsley, former European affairs correspondent of the BBC, Ayca Abakan Duffrene of the BBC World Service’s Turkish Service and Ruth Mandel from University College London (UCL). I concentrated on the human rights angle to the subject, pointing out how the EU’s Copenhagen criteria for prospective members puts serious obligations on their governments to make progress in the field of democracy and human rights. To his credit, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey has made quite a number of positive reforms since he came to power, though dismayingly these seem to have slowed rather. Moreover, last year there was actually a marked increase in the number of prosecutions against writers and journalists who fall foul of the country’s notorious Article 301, which makes criticising Turkey, Turkish identity or Turkish institutions a crime. Many of these prosecutions are maliciously brought by ultra-nationlist lawyers and others with an axe to grind — not a few of whom would be delighted if Turkey’s road to EU membership were blocked.

Link: www.biznet-uk,org

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Civil Society and Promoting Democratic Change

Posted by jonathanfryer on Thursday, 29th January, 2009

leyla-zana This morning I addressed the 5th International Conference on the ‘EU, Turkey and the Kurds’, organised by the EU Turkey Civic Commission at the European Parliament, stresing the importance of a healthy civil society within any putative democracy. That’s why the Westminster Foundation for Democracy — for which I sometimes go on foreign missions — sees NGOs as giving added value to the work of political parties in constructing an open and vibrant political space.  In a free society, the media and an independent judiciary also have a crucial role to play; That is indeed often the case in Turkey — but not when issues of cultural diversity or the linguistic rights of Kurds and other minority peoples are concerned. Certain elements of the Turkish constitution and penal code leave the door wide open for prosecutions which to an outside observer often appear malicious and vindictive. As a strong friend of Turkey, I hope that that situation will change before too long. If it doesn’t, the country has little chance of realising its goal of joining the European  Union, as the EU’s so-called Copenhagen criteria demand due respect for minority peoples.

I shared the conference platform with former Plaid Cymru MEP, Eurig Wyn, who drew some interesting parallels with the importance of the Welsh language in Wales, though as far as I know, no-one has been sent to prison for speaking Welsh in the Westminster parliament, which was essentially the case of former Kurdish Turkish MP Leyla Zana, who was the star speaker at the two-day Brussels conference. She is once again facing criminal chargzs, but a simultaneous gathering of the leaders of all the political groups in the European Parliament here in Brussels today issued a call to the Turkish government to bring a halt to all legal moves against her.

(photo of Leyla Zana: Chris Kutschera)

Link: http://www.eutcc.org/

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