Local view for "http://purl.org/linkedpolitics/eu/plenary/1999-10-06-Speech-3-025"

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"Mr President, I sincerely believe that the most important factor in relations between the European Union and Turkey is to avoid making U-turns and complete shifts in policy. It is essential not to give out wrong or unrealistic messages either to the Ankara Government or to the Turkish people, and to base our position on two principles. The first one is that relations between the European Union and Turkey are vital to both parties, now and in the future, in all areas and at all levels. Secondly, that the European Union must give priority to promoting Turkey’s democratisation in an intelligent way. To achieve this, we have to use the means available to us – the Association Agreement and certainly the Customs Union too. The European Union must demand that Turkey fulfils the Copenhagen criteria, but we must not add new ones. I was perturbed to hear how Mr Poettering, on behalf of the European People’s Party, added a so-called cultural criterion to our relations with Turkey. What was he referring to? To the fact that there are unavoidable cultural differences between Europeans and Turks, which prevent Ankara from having the chance that their country might join the European Union? I am radically against this unacceptable view. We can require that there be political principles, democracy, respect for human rights, and fair treatment of minorities and of the Kurdish people, and that international law be respected. But to add other criteria would certainly not be European in the best sense of the word. I would therefore like the EPP and Mr Poettering to make their position clear on this matter. Turkish public opinion, a progressive public opinion in terms of politics, society and business, requires that we give a clear message. But this message includes a rapprochement between the European Union and Turkey and at the same time, a push for the democratic values which today are still not being fulfilled. Leyla Zana is surely the most striking example of what I am talking about."@en1

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