[Sinn Fein]

22 November 2002

Taoiseach's about-turn on Turkey unhelpful to human rights - Ó Snodaigh

Sinn Fein spokesperson on European Affairs Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD has spoken out against the Taoiseach's decision to back Turkey's bid for an accession date at the Copenhagen Summit next month.

Deputy Ó Snodaigh said:

``As I have expressed repeatedly at Oireachtas European Affairs Committee meetings, there are two main reasons why Turkey cannot be given an accession date at this time. The first is that Turkey still has not adequately addressed its domestic human rights situation, and this was confirmed by the recent European Commission's own Progress Report. This is not a matter of a few minor abuses or aberrations. Turkey has been a major human rights violator. We need to see not only evidence of intent to change, but fundamental and enduring change. Turkey needs to establish a track record of respect for human rights before it can be admitted under the Copenhagen Criteria.

``Secondly, Turkey has threatened to annex Cyprus if its demands for an accession date are not met. This belligerence is not acceptable and should not be rewarded by the Government. Turkey are also in effect holding the Cyprus peace process hostage to this demand. Are these the conditions under which Ireland wants to welcome progress on Turkish accession? The Taoiseach's position is not helping matters.

``I am deeply uneasy about the timing of this about-face. We know that the United States have been pressing the Turkish position as part of their pre-war effort. I am not convinced that the Taoiseach's announcement is unrelated to this pressure. If this is the case it adds a third reason to reverse this position, and I call on the Taoiseach to do so.'' ENDS

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