A European Civic Commission will be established in order to monitor Turkish compliance with the EU accession criteria. This is a concrete result from the European Parliament Conference on The EU, Turkey and the Kurds, hosted by Rafto Foundation (Norway), Kurdish Human Rights Project (UK) and Medico International (Germany) The conference´s findings will be published and presented to the European Commission. In December 2004, the European Union (EU) will decide if Turkey is to be granted a specific date to begin accession talks. (30-NOV-04)

The conference assessed human rights concerns in Turkey including judicial, democratic and parliamentary reform; culture and language rights; freedom of expression; and the rights of internally displaced persons to return to their villages and to compensation. A special focus was put on the relationship between Turkey and the Kurds, and its implication on Turkey´s bid for EU membership.

The NGOs hosting the conference are supportive of Turkey´s EU accession, but consider the accession process to represent something of a mixed blessing for the Kurds. Admitting Turkey to the EU prematurely, before human rights concerns are adequately addressed, would simultaneously endow undue legitimacy on the Turkish Government while also damaging EU credibility. It is crucial that the Kurdish question is satisfactorily                                                                Mass grave, Diyarbarkir
addressed before Turkey is able to proceed                                                          
with accession.

The conference presented an opportunity for NGOs and individuals with regional expertise to highlight to decision-makers the successes and failures of the Turkish Government´s reforms.

For further information please contact:

Kariane Westrheim, Rafto Foudation
+47 55 58 8797
+47 97642088