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17.03.2006   Zdanoka: Turkey must meet conditions for EU membership

Welcoming this week's vote at the European Parliament to support the European Commission's strategy for future enlargement of the European Union, Latvian MEP and Human Rights campaigner Tatjana Zdanoka said the vote clearly emphasised continued enthusiasm for further enlargement but urged the Commission to strictly enforce conditions relating to respect for human rights and democracy in countries wishing to join the EU.

Ms Zdanoka urged the Commission to learn from the experience of her own country, Latvia, and pointed to the example of Turkey as a place where the goal of EU membership could be a powerful force to encourage an improvement in the respect of human rights and democracy.

Tatjana Zdanoka's party (For Human Rights in a United Latvia) represents the substantial Russian speaking minority in the country.

Speaking during the debate in Parliament, Ms Zdanoka said:

"I very much appreciate the references to the necessity of enjoyment fundamental rights and freedoms, notably the rights of minorities, in Turkey, Croatia and the Western Balkan countries in the report.

When debating Turkey's application to join the Union I have urged the Commission not to repeat the mistakes that were made in the case of my country, Latvia's, accession by not using the process to promote the rights of minorities.

The EFA group in the European Parliament has called on the EU institutions to urge the Turkish government to improve it's policy on ethnic, religious and linguistic minorities. Unfortunately, we do not see much progress in this domain.

In particular, killings of innocent citizens in
Kurdistan are still taking place. Two weeks ago the parents of Derwich Ferho, the prominent human rights campaigner and president of the Kurdish institute based in Brussels, were killed. It has been suggested that Turkish Special Forces were involved. Some time ago the elderly couple were threatened: it was made clear to them that their son had to stop his activities.

We support further EU enlargement - but it must be based strictly on the
Copenhagen Criteria which underscore respect for human rights and democracy."






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