European Union

European Parliament resolution of 21 May 2008 on Turkey's 2007 progress report


European Parliament resolution of 21 May 2008 on Turkey's 2007 progress report"

21 May 2008, The Committee on Foreign Affairs adopted the own initiative report by Ria OOMEN-RUIJTEN (EPP-ED, NL) on the 2007 report on Turkey's progress towards accession, welcoming the commitment of Prime Minister Erdogan that 2008 is going to be a year of reforms. MEPs now urge the Turkish government to fulfil its promises and to transform Turkey into a modern and prosperous democracy based on a secular state and a pluralistic society.
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11.  Encourages the Turkish government, following the positive step taken with the adoption of the Law on Foundations, to fulfil its commitments regarding freedom of religion by establishing, in line with the ECHR and the case-law of the European Court of Human Rights, a legal framework enabling all religious communities to function without undue constraints, in particular as regards their legal status, the training of clergy, the election of the hierarchy, religious education and the construction of places of worship; calls for protection of the religious and cultural heritage; reiterates its call for the immediate re-opening of the Greek Orthodox Halki Seminary and the public use of the ecclesiastical title of the Ecumenical Patriarch; shares the concern expressed by the Council on 24 July 2007 over the ruling of the Turkish Court of Cassation on the Ecumenical Patriarchate, and expects that this decision will not further impede the exercise by the Patriarchate and other non-Muslim religious communities of their rights guaranteed under the ECHR;

15.  Reiterates its earlier calls upon the Turkish government to come up with a comprehensive master plan to boost the socio-economic and cultural development of the south-east of Turkey, where over half the population still lives below the poverty line; is of the view that this master plan should also address the social, ecological, cultural and geopolitical problems stemming from the Southeastern Anatolia Project; asks the Commission to link the regional component of assistance given under the Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance (IPA) to the speedy drawing-up of such a strategy;

17.  Takes note of the process under way to prepare a new, civilian constitution; regards it as the key opportunity to place the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms at the core of the constitution; reiterates that a system of checks and balances needs to be established, guaranteeing democracy, the rule of law, social cohesion and the separation between religion and state; stresses also that the new constitution should ensure gender equality, avoid the use of vague criteria such as general morality, refrain from perceiving women primarily as family or community members and reaffirm women's human rights, including their sexual and reproductive rights, as their individual rights;

21.  Is concerned about the hostility, strongly present in certain parts of society, shown to minorities and about politically and religiously motivated violence; calls on the Turkish government to take action against organisations and groups which stir up such hostility, to protect all those who are threatened and fear for their lives, and to make sustained efforts to create an environment conducive to full respect of fundamental human rights and freedoms;

25. Takes note of Prime Minister Erdogan´s assessment of assimilation, as expressed during his recent official visit to Germany; is therefore of the opinion that the Turkish government should take steps to enable all citizens to develop their cultural identity within the democratic Turkish state; points out in this regard the commitments set out in the Negotiating Framework concerning respect for and protection of minorities, and effective access to the learning and broadcasting of, and to public services in, languages other than Turkish;

Read the full Resolution ... EN - FR
Religious Freedom in Turkey: Situation of Religious Minorities


Religious Freedom in Turkey: Situation of Religious Minorities"

February 2008 In contemporary Turkey, the status of religious minorities has been stipulated in the Treaty of Lausanne signed on 24 July 1923. The Government interpreted the Lausanne Treaty as granting special legal minority status exclusively to these three groups, although the treaty text refers broadly to "non-Muslim minorities" without listing specific groups. The Treaty of Lausanne is a founding text of the Republic of Turkey since it is defining the fundamental rights of all linked to the state by the link of citizenship and puts forward the obligation for the Turkish State to protect the Non- Muslim communities.
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According to the Government sources, 99 % of the population is Muslim, the majority of which is Sunni. The Christian and Jewish minorities are less than 1% of the population. In addition to the country's Sunni Muslim majority, academics estimated
there are 15 to 20 million Alevis. The religious groups include approximately 65,000 Armenian Orthodox Christians, 23,000 Jews, and up to 4,000 Greek Orthodox Christians.
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Despite laicism, the Turkish state has not been able to overcome the segregation of non-Muslim minorities and to integrate them into the nation as citizens with equal rights. While the Muslim Turks have been the “we”, the non-Muslim minorities have
been categorized as “the other”.
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There are also some other non-Muslim minorities such as Syriacs who are not included to the criteria defined by the Treaty of Lausanne. First of all, because of the nationality criteria the Syriacs faces difficulties to work for certain churches. But, similar to the problems of other non-muslim minorities, the Syriacs are not permitted to establish schools and the election of the heads their churches is subject to strict conditions. Their clergy continue to have difficulties...

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Les Vingt-Sept pénalisent le racisme et le négationnisme


Les Vingt-Sept pénalisent le racisme et le négationnisme"


L'Union européenne s'est dotée d'une législation commune contre le racisme et le négationnisme après plusieurs années de discussion marquées par de fortes dissensions entre les Etats membres. Une profonde ligne de clivage sépare en effet les pays qui donnent une priorité absolue à la liberté d'expression, même lorsqu'elle rend possibles des discours de haine et de violence, et ceux qui estiment nécessaire d'imposer des limites à de tels discours. Une décision-cadre proposée en 2001 par la Commission n'avait pu aboutir faute d'accord.

La présidence allemande de l'Union avait annoncé, en janvier, son intention de soumettre un nouveau projet au conseil des ministres. Les ministres européens de la justice devaient entériner, jeudi 19 avril à Luxembourg, le compromis auquel sont parvenus les Vingt-Sept. Le texte, "très édulcoré par rapport à la version initiale", selon un diplomate, impose aux Etats de punir d'une peine d'au moins un an de prison "l'incitation publique à la violence ou à la haine visant un groupe de personnes ou un membre d'un tel groupe, défini par référence à la race, la couleur, la religion, l'ascendance, l'origine nationale ou ethnique". Il applique la même sanction à "l'approbation publique, la négation ou la banalisation grossière des crimes de génocide, crimes contre l'humanité et crimes de guerre", tels qu'ils sont définis par le statut de la Cour pénale internationale et, pour la Shoah, par la charte du tribunal de Nuremberg.

Toutefois, le projet précise que le négationnisme n'est obligatoirement punissable que s'il apparaît comme une incitation à la violence et à la haine. Cela n'empêchera pas les pays qui le souhaitent, comme la France, de continuer à le sanctionner dans tous les cas, mais cela autorisera les autres à ne pas le faire. En outre, les Etats pourront choisir de ne punir les comportements racistes ou négationnistes que s'ils sont "menaçants, injurieux ou insultants" ou s'ils risquent de "troubler l'ordre public".

Plusieurs anciens pays communistes ont demandé, en vain, que les crimes du stalinisme soient pris en compte. Le Conseil, dans une déclaration annexée, souligne que le projet ne concerne pas les crimes des régimes totalitaires, mais que rien n'empêche les Etats d'adopter une législation qui s'y rapporte. Il invite la Commission à se pencher sur la question de savoir si l'Union doit se donner un instrument additionnel afin de punir l'apologie, la négation ou la banalisation de crimes commis contre un groupe de personnes défini par d'autres critères que ceux de la race, la couleur, la religion, l'ascendance, l'origine nationale ou ethnique.

Thomas Ferenczi - LE MONDE - Article paru dans l'édition du 20.04.07

http://www.lemonde.fr/web/article/0,1-0@2-3214,36-898443,0.html?xtor=RSS-3210