Committee Reports::Report No. 06 - Turkey and Accession to the European Union::01 December, 2004::Report

Tithe an Oireachtais

An Comhchoiste um Ghnóthaí Eorpacha

An tOchtú Tuarascáil

Tuarascail ar: An Tuirc agus Aontachas leis an Aontas


Nollaig 2004

Houses of the Oireachtas

Joint Committee on European Affairs

Eighth Report

Report On: Turkey and Accession to the European Union

December 2004

Summary and Conclusions
Chapter 1: Turkey as Candidate 8
1.1 Constitution
The State and Religion
Role of Military
Human and Social Rights
Rights of Minorities
1.2 Economic
Regional Disparities
1.3 Standard of Administration
1.4 Cyprus
1.5 What Happens if the Union says no?
Chapter 2: Challenges for Europe
2.1 Coherence
2.2 Identity
2.3 Low growth in Europe
Chapter 3: Implications of membership of Turkey
3.1 Migration
3.2 CFSP
3.3 Border Security
3.4 Implications for Ireland
3.5 Implications for Budget
3.6 Energy
Annex 1: References
Annex 2: Terms of Reference
Annex 3: List of Members
Annex 4: Transcripts of Relevant Meetings

Summary and Conclusions

The information contained in this report is based on a fact finding visit by members of the committee to Ankara and Istanbul, two meetings of the Joint Committee with the Turkish Ambassador to Ireland and the Institute of European Affairs and desk research. The Joint Committee is aware that it has not, and could not have, the resources to undertake a truly comprehensive review of current political and civil life in Turkey nor to measure in detail possible outcomes of Turkish membership of the European Union, either for the Union or for Turkey. Nonetheless, it believes that it is important that the Committee should express a view on the broader issues raised by the decision facing the European Council on 17th December, 2004 and that it should suggest criteria which might be used in coming to this decision.

The Helsinki European Council meeting in December 1999 concluded that:

    “Turkey is a candidate State destined to join the Union on the basis of the same criteria as applied to the other candidate States. Building on the existing European Strategy, Turkey, like other candidate States, will benefit from a pre-accession strategy to stimulate and support its reforms.”

As part of the pre-accession strategy, the Commission reports regularly to the European Council on progress made by each of the candidate countries in preparing for membership. Consequently, the Commission has published a series of yearly Regular Reports on Turkey, covering the years 1998 to 2004.

The Copenhagen European Council meeting in December 2002 concluded that:

    “The Union encourages Turkey to pursue energetically its reform process. If the European Council in December 2004, on the basis of a report and a recommendation from the Commission, decides that Turkey fulfils the Copenhagen political criteria, the European Union will open accession negotiations with Turkey without delay.”

The Brussels European Council meeting in June 2004 concluded that:

    “The Union reaffirms its commitment that if the European Council decides in December 2004, on the basis of a report and recommendation from the Commission, that Turkey fulfils the Copenhagen political criteria, the EU will open accession negotiations with Turkey without delay.”

The European Commission has submitted its report and its recommendation is that accession negotiations should begin.

The very fact of opening negotiations with Turkey is a step of great significance for the relations of the Union with Turkey. The Union has had a long-standing relationship with Turkey, including a unique customs union, which makes it very difficult to pretend that the next phase – accession negotiations – are anything other than part of a continuum. To suggest that it is possible to open negotiations for membership on some kind of exploratory basis, or that negotiations do not have full membership but some other type of arrangement as their goal, is disingenuous. To open negotiations with anything less than full membership as their objective would represent a real rupture in existing EU-Turkey relations. But opening negotiations is stepping out on a journey with a very uncertain destination.

The fact of being a candidate for EU accession will have a profound impact on Turkey economically and socially. It is clear that many of the constitutional and legal changes of the last years have been driven by the prospect of starting negotiations, and it can be expected that economic changes and changes in regional government will be the same. If the Union refuses to open negotiations it is possible that the drive for constitutional and legal change will falter and the chances for economic development will be reduced. What is not clear is what will happen if Turkey is told “maybe – we’ll see”.

Even if a clear decision is taken by the European Council on 17th December 2004, the time period involved makes it very difficult to be certain of the outcomes in a number of areas. In order to quantify any of the economic impact, enormous assumptions must be made as to EU policies in 15 years time, as well as how the Turkish economy will develop. However, these will become, even if only over a long period, quantifiable and will be subject to final ratification by the Turkish government and, presumably, people, and by the governments, and possibly, people of the existing EU.

The basic constitutional tenets of Turkey are not comparable to those of most of today’s members of the Union.

  • It seeks to be a secular state, but the state administers one religion, and places serious impediments in the way of minority religions.
  • The military play a role as a constitutional guardian of this secularism in a way which is unique internationally.
  • While all states treasure their national cohesion, the interpretation of this principle in Turkey means that any expression of minority ethnicity is treated as a threat to the state.

Economic and political elites (including the military) are in favour of entry to the European Union. These are the same parts of society which are committed to modernising and opening society and the economy. There is difficulty in distinguishing whether membership is a tool or a goal. Public opinion surveys show a majority in favour of membership, but it is not certain that there is a true understanding of the implications of membership or of the sharing of sovereignty which is an essential part of the European project.

Membership of the Union will place huge burdens on Turkey. The costs and effort required of all levels of society and the economy in adopting the acquis will be enormous, at a time when the Turkish economy is only beginning to climb back from the brink of collapse.

For the Union the implications are also substantial.

  • Turkey is a poor country, with great regional disparities and very dependent on agriculture. Both of these aspects will make large demands on EU funding.
  • Turkey has borders in some of the most sensitive parts of the world, which will make demands on the European Union’s foreign policy, its neighbourhood policy and its security policy.
  • Turkey has a young, mobile, but not very highly educated population which may seek to migrate to other parts of the Union.
  • Turkey’s population will give it a presence in the institutions which will have a profound impact on all existing members.
  • Turkey maintains a large army presence on the Island of Cyprus and refuses to recognise the Republic of Cyprus which is a member state of the European Union.

Turkish membership, precisely because of its differences, could have a very positive effect on the Union itself. Precisely because of Turkey’s geopolitical role, the Union will have increased weight on the world stage. The extension of the internal market will bring benefits to all. The support which Union membership can give to constitutional and social change in Turkey will ensure a closer relationship with an Islamic country, and the advantage of supporting a modern, market-economy driven Islamic role model. Membership of a secular, Islamic country could prove that the Union is not just a Judeo-Christian club and that membership is open to those who meet criteria of human and social rights and not just of history.

But it will be a real test for the Union. It is not certain that a European Union, which at that time will be dealing not just with the 5th enlargement but with a Union which contains Romania, Bulgaria, almost certainly Croatia and probably other countries, will have the administrative capacity, the political will or the developed “sense of self” to be able to deal with the challenge posed by the entry of a poor country with some 70 million people.

It is the view of the Committee that Turkey has made huge efforts to bring its constitution and all its judicial and administrative systems into line with the Copenhagen Criteria, and it does not underestimate the difficulty of the task, or what has been achieved. However, there is still a long way to go. The Committee is not convinced that the changes are irreversible or that all layers of Turkish society are as committed to making these changes as the current government clearly is.

The Committee believes that enough progress has been made in meeting the Copenhagen Criteria for the current regime to be given the support it needs to continue.


The Committee is of the view that a decision should be taken on 17th December 2004 to open negotiations with Turkey. These negotiations should be with the goal of full membership, and should be undertaken in good faith.

However, because the negotiations have been opened and the goal is clear, it does not mean that it is inevitable. The issues dealt with in the body of this report must be dealt with, and there must be the possibility of constant monitoring – and support.

Turkey must continue to demonstrate that it is improving its record in human and social rights, and it must be possible to break off the negotiations if this continuing improvement does not take place. Turkey must also undertake to recognise Cyprus. It must ensure that outstanding disputes with its neighbours are settled. Equally, the Union must be honest with itself and with Turkey about the effort which will be required to make a success of Turkish membership.

The Commission recommends a three pillar approach to the negotiations:

  • The first pillar would aim to support the reform process in Turkey and ensure its irreversibility. This would be done by closely monitoring Turkey’s performance within the framework of a revised Association Partnership.
  • The second pillar would concern the actual negotiations on each chapter of the acquis and would aim to ensure Turkey’s compliance with EU legislation. For obvious reasons, the negotiations with Turkey will certainly be long and complex. Therefore, for each chapter of the negotiations, the Council should lay down benchmarks for the opening and closure of negotiations, including a satisfactory track record of implementation of the acquis communautaire. Long transition periods may be required. Permanent safeguard clauses may also be considered in sensitive areas such as free movement of workers.
  • The EU would also have to define its financial perspectives for 2014 onwards before accession negotiations with Turkey can be concluded. This might imply a substantial review of the structural and agricultural funding arrangements for Turkey.
  • The third pillar of the strategy would aim to strengthen the cultural and political dialogue, by means not yet devised, between the EU and Turkey on the level of civil society

The Joint Committee supports this approach

Turkey has been the subject of a number of reports covering its political and economic circumstances, and drawing conclusions as to whether it is, or is likely to be, a suitable candidate for membership of the European Union. Clearly the Joint Oireachtas Committee does not have the resources, nor would it be appropriate to undertake the kind of detailed technical examination already undertaken by the European Commission, the Council of Europe and the OECD, in addition to a number of research institutes. But the Committee has had the opportunity to visit Turkey, even if briefly, and believes that a step as significant as this should be debated within the Oireachtas, and it seeks, in adopting this report, to highlight the issues of primary concern to it and to the Irish people.

This report is divided into three:

  • the current situation in Turkey and the extent to which the Committee believes the Copenhagen Criteria are met;
  • the implications for the existing European Union of such an enlargement;
  • the specific issues relating to having Turkey as a member.

Chapter 1: Turkey as Candidate

In the last few years a number of events have had the effect of modernizing Turkish society and the economy.

The decision of the Helsinki Council, in 1999, gave a clear goal to those forces within Turkish society who wished for EU membership, and laid down equally clearly the objectives which Turkey needed to fulfill to ensure that its candidature would be accepted.

The decisive majority won by the AKP party in the 2002 elections meant, that for the first time in 15 years, one party had an absolute majority in parliament. The strong mandate given to the present government, and the break which it marked with the past, has provided Turkey with a platform from which necessary political and constitutional changes can be made.

The financial crisis of 2001 meant that Turkey became dependent on the support of the IMF. This entailed the introduction of greater transparency and openness in the operation of the economy and a move away from the previous, highly politicized way of doing business. Relations with the IMF are strained, and its presence is resented but the beneficial effect of the kind of economic planning which was required remains, and the Turkish economy is growing strongly.

Turkey realized that it needed to face the potential of instability, in a region further destabilized by war in Iraq, and seek to bring its Kurdish minority into a democratically legitimate relationship with the state.

In 1959, Turkey applied for associate membership of the European Economic Community (EEC). After a delay caused by the Turkish military coup of 1960, the Ankara Agreement of association was signed in 1963. It held out a prospect of membership at some stage. In the Ankara Agreement there was a commitment to the gradual establishment of a customs union, which in accordance with details set out in the Additional Protocol of 1970 was to be finalised after a period of 22 years. After several delays, the customs union entered into force only in 1996. It led to a wide-ranging abolition of customs duties and quotas, without achieving the free movement of people, services and capital originally envisaged.

In April 1987, Turkey submitted an application for membership to the European Community (EC). It took the European Commission until December 1989 to produce an Opinion, approved by the European Council two months later, refusing accession negotiations on several grounds. It was pointed out that the Community itself was undergoing major changes following the adoption of the Single Act; it would therefore be inappropriate to become involved in new accession negotiations at this stage. Furthermore, the economic and political situation in Turkey, including “the negative consequences of the dispute between Turkey and one Member State of the Community, and also the situation in Cyprus” led the Commission to believe that it would not be useful to open accession negotiations with Turkey straight away.

In 1995, the Turkey EU Accession Council finalised agreement on the Customs Union, which entered into force on 1st January 1996.

The Luxembourg European Council of 1997 confirmed Turkey’s eligibility for accession to the European Union. “Turkey will be judged on the basis of the same criteria as the other applicant States. While the political and economic conditions allowing accession negotiations to be envisaged are not satisfied, the European Council considers that it is nevertheless important for a strategy to be drawn up to prepare Turkey for accession by bringing it closer to the European Union in every field.”

The decision was clearly stated at the Helsinki European Council in 1999 that if Turkey were adjudged to have met criteria, known as the Copenhagen Criteria, these negotiations could begin. Therefore, much rests on this criteria and whether Turkey could be deemed to have met them. The Commission believes that it has.1 The European Parliament has also supported the opening of negotiations.2

Turkey needs to meet economic and political criteria, although the Brussels Council speaks only of meeting the political criteria. In the past, it has not followed the budgetary or economic policies which would allow it to meet the onerous economic terms of being a member of an internal market, which includes some of the most developed economies and markets in the world. Meeting these criteria requires huge political and administrative commitment and capacity.

Neither has Turkey, in the past, shown the kind of observance of human, political and social rights which is expected of a European constitutional democracy. It has not always been a parliamentary democracy and the power of the army in Turkish political life, exercised a number of times, leaves a legacy of concern about Turkey’s compatibility as a member of a Union.

Recent surveys show that around 75% of the electorate would vote in favour of accession if a referendum were to be held at this time, the principal motive being the expectation of important economic benefits. However, answers to other questions indicate the persistence of a strong Euroscepticism among Turkish people. Anxieties concern the possible loss of national and religious identity, erosion of traditional values and the weakening of Turkish independence and sovereignty. There is concern at being excluded by Europe and a perception that much harsher membership conditions are being imposed on Turkey than on other candidates.

The drive for membership comes from many parts of Turkish society. For the current AKP government, the prospect of membership of the European Union can both help to underline their intentions in promoting democratic reform as genuine and, in the future, allow more religious freedom and genuine multiculturalism than at present. For the secularists, the EU can help to ensure a continued separation of state and religion, and guarantee that a weakening of the power and ultimate control of the military does not open the door to fundamentalism.

It is not certain that the main drivers of the move towards accession are completely united within themselves. Some of the military are not happy with the reforms as they have been implemented, and it is likely that there will be considerable internal opposition within the AKP. Among the issues which are likely to prove contentious is the sharing of sovereignty, which, given the primacy of the integrity of the state in political and constitutional priorities, will require major adjustments.

The prospect of membership is seen by many progressive forces as the way forward, to guarantee constitutional change and democratic reform. Human rights groups have asked their international counterparts to be careful of their criticism of the delivery of Turkish reform, in case failures are used to block the start of negotiations. Minorities churches see in this process a way out of the many difficulties which beset them. Turkey’s unique positioning as a secular state, on the edge of Asia with a devout Moslem population appears to need some kind of guarantor. Up to now it has been the Kemalist tradition as embodied by the military. If this bulwark is taken away, other supports will be needed, and the European Union is seen by those in favour of accession as the best possible external validator of Turkey for the twenty first century.

Therefore a very serious question arises if the Union is not prepared to engage. It is not likely that the reforms which have taken place are irreversible, so a refusal to negotiate, or negotiations which turn into something less than full membership could have a very profound effect on Turkey. It is also possible that Turkey will find that the burdens of membership are too great and will dis-engage. If that were to be the case, the European Union would have a particular responsibility to see to it that those who placed the greatest hopes in membership are not required to pay the greatest penalty for failure.

1.1 Constitution

Islamic fundamentalism and Kurdish separatism have long been seen by the secularist establishment, especially the military, as the two main challenges to the integrity of the Turkish state, leading some to see minority cultural and religious rights as potentially threatening. The present constitution is a legacy of the military intervention of 1980. It has been subject to major change, although there are those who would argue that it should have been scrapped rather than amended.

There have been two major constitutional reforms, in 2001 and 2004 and eight legislative packages adopted by Parliament between February 2002 and July 2004. Efforts have been made by the Reform Monitoring Group, chaired by the deputy Prime Minister with responsibility for human rights, to drive forward the necessary changes at local level and to deal with the administrative bottle necks.

Since 2003, the death penalty has been abolished, for all except the military penal code, and work on that is underway.

The changes which have taken place have been driven forward at the highest level and with great skill and energy. There is a problem however with implementation at local level. There appears to be a commitment to these changes in areas such as the big cities, but it is less certain that this is the case in rural, or more backward areas.

The State and Religion

The secular nature of the Turkish state is one of its truly unique characteristics, and a legacy of Ataturk. There is a strongly held view that having Turkey as a member of the European Union proves that a country, made up almost exclusively of devout Moslems, can be citizens of a modern, economically successful, and forward looking democracy. However, the guardians of the bequests of Ataturk are to a very large extent the military, as confirmed in the constitution, who are concerned that Turkey remain secular. While over time, and with appropriate strengthening of the constitution and of constitutional safeguards, a role for the military may not considered to be necessary, that is not the case now, nor will it be in any likely timescale for membership.

The argument about Turkish membership, outside Turkey, is very often dealt with in terms of pro or anti-Islam, but the debate inside the country shows that the issues of secularism v Islam is far from settled. Secularism is both a cultural and constitutional issue. The principle that an individual’s beliefs are private and cannot be imposed generally is one that is central to all European democracies. However, each member state of the Union has its own version of secularism, ranging from the laicite of France, where the visible expression of religious beliefs must be kept quite separate from every public occasion, to the United Kingdom which has an established church and where the head of state is head of the church.

Turkey is more secular than many other European countries. Any form of external sign of religious observance, such as the headscarf, is forbidden within any official context, and the idea of religious education in schools being obligatory is excluded. Divorce was introduced in 1923, votes for women in 1935, right to abortion in 1983, and the equal division of goods in the case of divorce was recently introduced.

But the Turkish state is the opposite of the European model of a secular state. It has done all in its power to standardise the most diversified religion – Islam. Islam has no institutional church, such as the main Christian churches have, there is a community of believers. The organisation of religion is undertaken by a Directorate for religious affairs, which is part of the Prime Ministers Office. It trains and administers the imams, it provides the sermons for Friday ceremonies in the mosques, and organises the pilgrimage to Mecca. In 2002 this directorate had a budget of €400 million. Therefore Islam may be said to be a state religion. But it is a fundamental tenet of the Kemalist state that religion remains the private belief of each citizen, and there is a ban on Koranic laws in social and political life.

Turkish secularism does not extend to promoting or even protecting other churches. No church or religious community may have a legal personality. For that reason, acquiring property becomes impossible. The difficulties encountered by the Christian minority churches, in particular the Orthodox are striking. The Greek Orthodox Church has just several thousand members, compared to several hundreds of thousands when the state was founded, eighty years ago. The Patriarch of Istanbul is the spiritual head of all Orthodox Christians. He is required to be a Turkish citizen and his election must be approved by the Turkish state. If a council to elect a new Patriarch does not decide within eight days, the government reserves the right to nominate the new Patriarch.

It is also made impossible for the Church to train or bring in new clergy. One of the most historic seminaries has been closed and the Church cannot get permission to re-open it. Clergy coming from other countries may stay only three months.

Buildings, some of them used by the Church for 1500 years, and an essential part of a European patrimony, are taken over by the state. The state will not repair them or allow the Church to repair them. Parish goods and buildings are seized by the state and made over to other institutions such as schools.

This state of affairs, which actually seeks to end, over time, the existence of the Orthodox Church, is something which would be unacceptable in any western European state. The major religions in Turkey are protected (to a certain extent) by the Treaty of Lausanne, but the position of minorities not mentioned in the Treaty is even worse. Turkey may be secular but it is very far from being pluralist.

Role of Military

The army’s considerable influence on Turkish public life is based on its institutional role and the prestige and confidence it enjoys in Turkish society. Much of this is explained by modern Turkey’s foundation in 1923 by a soldier, Mustapha Kemal, or “Ataturk”, and the military’s subsequent unswerving devotion to the values he defended, which have taken the form of a set of principles known as Kemalism. Also compared with a political class that was unstable and often fairly unreliable, it was permanent. The army has the role of “oracle and paterfamilias” and is accepted as such even by the media. The military are not opposing the drive for membership of the European Union, but it is not unanimous, although the current Chief of Staff appears to favour such a move. Turkey has the largest armed forces in Europe (790, 000) and spends proportionately more on defence (4.8% of GDP) than any other European member of NATO.

The dominance of the military is exercised through the National Security Council. This is a consultative body made up of civilian and military members.

Its function was to give an opinion to the government on every thing to do with national security. The Secretary General, a member of the military, exercised power in the name of the Prime Minister and operated as the head of government of an unofficial state, giving orders directly to the administration and the legal services. It had its representatives on the commission for the audiovisual, for education and for all the major sectors of public life. The National Security Council could decide which issues came within its terms of reference, and a dossier could be taken over by the Council thereby depriving the government of its right of decision. As every issue could be considered to have a national security implication, it was in a position to rule on topics such as teaching a minority language as having implications for the unity of the state.

The National Security Council was subject to a separate legal system, so that military officers were judged by their peers. The Chief of Staff was nominated by the president of the Republic on the proposal of the prime minister, so he was equal in rank to the prime minister and superior to the Minister for Defence.

As part of recently introduced constitutional changes, an attempt has been made to strengthen civilian control of the military, with substantial changes to the role and composition of the National Security Council, including a civilian Secretary General. For the first time also, the military budget is audited by the Court of Auditors. The office of the Secretary General now only serves the administrative needs of the Council which has a purely consultative function. Military courts may no longer try civilians for criticizing the military service. However the military retain substantial power through informal channels.

Military service is obligatory for all young men and can last up to 18 months. There is no right of conscientious objection, and for young men living abroad, failure to undertake military service can result in loss of citizenship. This has resulted in some young Turkish men living in Germany becoming stateless.


While the military is among the most admired institutions in the state, the judiciary is among the least respected. Judges are employees of the ministry of home affairs, and while they cannot be sacked, they can be moved around every three years. The courts have been bogged down in the huge number of prosecutions begun by public prosecutors, because their career prospects are based on numbers, rather than quality.

However, as part of the reforms, important changes have been made to the judicial system. The principle of the primacy of international and European human rights conventions over domestic law was enshrined in the Constitution. State Security Courts were abolished and some of their competencies were transferred to newly created Regional Serious Felony Courts. Parliament adopted a new Civil Code and a new Penal Code, which will enter into force in April 2005. A draft new Code of Criminal Procedure and draft Laws on the Establishment of the Judicial Police and on the Execution of Punishments remain to be adopted.

Other structural changes included the creation of Intermediate Courts of Appeal and a family courts system throughout the country. There has been progress in aligning the rights of the defence with the relevant European standards. A Justice Academy was established and training on international law and human rights for judges and prosecutors has intensified. The higher courts, such as the Court of Cassation, have delivered judgments applying the amended provisions adopted by the various packages of political reforms. Nonetheless, there is sometimes still a restrictive interpretation of the reforms, in particular by prosecutors.

Recent initiatives, funded by the European Union and member states governments have been involved in re-training judges, particularly in the area of human rights. A recent EU visit concluded that this programme has been a success and that recent judgements of the courts have demonstrated this. However, the resources available to the judiciary, including in particular the Court of Cassation (supreme court of appeal) are totally inadequate.

Human and Social Rights


This government has exercised zero tolerance of the practice of torture. Penalties were increased and steps were taken to ensure that hearings were held under urgent procedure and prison sentences could not be suspended or commuted in to fines. All prosecutors have been ordered to investigate personally any allegations of torture or ill-treatment rather than entrusting such inquiries to the police or gendarmerie.

Human rights groups active in Turkey were under constant pressure with many of their staff jailed over the years, but the situation has now improved and the role of such groups is now recognised by the government. These groups keep a record of those claiming to be tortured, according to the UN definition of torture.3 According to records, 300 have claimed to be tortured in ’04. There is no record of a death under torture so far in ’04. There have been 4 rapes of detainees reported.

Torture can happen in detention by the police, the gendarmerie or in interrogation stations. It can also happen in pre-detention. The main groups which suffer are Leftists, Kurds or any other separatists, Islamic fundamentalists, and members of minority groups.

There is no doubt – even according to the European Commission’s latest report – that torture continues, although its use is no longer systematic. Leyla Zana (the Kurdish member of parliament recently released from imprisonment) stated at the European Parliament that there is no more systematic torture and that progress (although inadequate) had been made on the torture issue. It appears that the government have made real efforts to stamp out the practise of torture, but the cultural changes at local level have not necessarily taken place yet, and in spite of genuine changes in the law and the administration of justice, no member of the security services has been imprisoned for torture.

According to the Association of Human Rights’ report, in the first half of 2003 the prosecution of a total of 63 members of the security forces in 11 courts for torturing 42 persons resulted in 29 discontinued proceedings because the time limit had been exceeded, 13 acquittals, 8 convictions with suspended sentences and 13 prison sentences whose application was partially or wholly suspended.

There are judgements against Turkey by the European Court of Human Rights, confirming that its current investigation procedures do not comply with Articles 1 and 3 of the Convention. EU projects have worked with the police on the improvement of methods for taking statements, and moving the emphasis to evaluating evidence, rather than relying on confessions. The EU is supporting work to establish a proper complaints mechanism.

Trade Union Rights

Significant constraints remain on the right to organise and the right to collective bargaining, including the right to strike. Turkey has still not accepted Article 5 (“right to organise”) and Article 6 (“right to bargain collectively” including the right to strike) of the European Social Charter. Although an Economic and Social Council was formally established in 2000 with a view to promoting social dialogue, such dialogue remains weak.

Position of Women

Article 10 of the Constitution now includes the provision that men and women shall have equal rights and that the state has the duty to ensure that this equality is put into practice. The new Penal Code is generally progressive in terms of women’s rights, addressing such crimes as “honour killings”, sexual assault, including within marriage, and virginity testing. Despite legal and practical initiatives to tackle the problem of discrimination and domestic violence this remains a major problem. Sustained efforts will be required to ensure that women take an equal place in society.

Many women are subjected to various forms of physical and psychological violence within the family. These include, sexual abuse, forced and often early marriages, unofficial religious marriages, trafficking and “honour killings”. Part of this abuse may be due to the harsh application of Islamic culture, but it could also be part of the culture of a conservative, backward, rural culture.

In March 2004 a judge sentenced the perpetrator of an “honour killing” in Sanilurfa to life imprisonment and implicated family members were given long prison sentences.

Women remain vulnerable to discriminatory practices, due largely to a lack of education and high illiteracy rate (19% of women in Turkey are illiterate and in the Southeast this figure is considerably higher). In some provinces of the Southeast, 62% of girls are reportedly enrolling in primary education and 50% in secondary. The widespread practice of the non-registration of girls in some parts of the Southeast contributes to this situation. Moreover, the portrayal of women in school textbooks reinforces such discrimination.

34% of professionals are women and 42% of students in further education are women. However, women are underrepresented in elected bodies and government (4% of members of Parliament and one Minister). Virtually none of the legislation to protect or promote women in the workforce has been implemented.


As regards the rights of disabled people, in July 2004 a circular was issued stating that at least 3% of the staff in public institutions with more than 50 employees should be disabled and/or ex-convicts. According to official sources, there has been a significant increase in the recruitment of disabled persons since last year. However, Turkey has still not accepted Article 15 of the European Social Charter

Rights of Minorities

Turkey has signed and or ratified several international conventions, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and the International Convention on Social and Cultural Rights, even if with reservations. The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe decided in June 2004 to end the monitoring procedure for human rights infringements which was started in 1996.4


The principle of territorial integrity is one of the absolute principles of the Kemalist state. The concept of any kind of autonomous region for eg. Kurds is completely unacceptable. In order to suppress the Kurdish rebellion, the state spent some$100 bn and conscripted at least 2.5 million draftees. The issue was seen uniquely as one of national security.

However, since 1999, the situation has been eased to a small extent. The ban on the use of the Kurdish language was abolished and there is currently radio and TV broadcasting in Kurdish – which amounts to 30 minutes per week. Kurdish is very occasionally used in public events in the southeast, but there are still restrictions in the areas of broadcasting and education.

It is extremely difficult to learn Kurdish and it may only be taught to over-18 year olds, based on a police certificate etc. The Council of Europe has identified that this has become not only an ethnic or cultural issue, but also a social and humanitarian one. No official information of any kind is available in any language except Turkish and given that in parts of the east and south-east many, in particular women and girls who are less likely to have attended school, speak only Kurdish, they are completely excluded from the most basic social and political life of the country. They have no access to the law, to the courts, or to health care.

There is a constitutional requirement that a political party must obtain 10% of the national vote before being allowed be represented in parliament. (This has not prevented a proliferation of smaller parties, because parties have split on entering parliament and are allowed remain.) While such a threshold is a feature of the constitutional systems of other European countries, the 10% figure is very high, and will hinder any possibility of Kurdish representation.

Return of Displaced Persons

Large numbers were internally displaced in the conflict with the Kurds. NGOs suggest that the number of displaced persons is much greater than official statistics indicate (the total number is estimated at 3 million).

The situation of internally displaced persons (IDPs) is still critical, with many living in precarious conditions. Turkey began a dialogue with international organisations in view of addressing the weaknesses of the “Return to Village and Rehabilitation Programme” which were highlighted by the UN Secretary General’s Special Representative for Displaced Persons following his visit to Turkey in 2002. There have been approximately 1,500 applications to the ECtHR on this subject.

A law on the compensation of damages incurred by the victims of terrorism was approved. Although work has started to define a more systematic approach towards the Southeast, no integrated strategy with a view to reducing regional disparities and addressing the economic, social and cultural needs of the local population has yet been adopted. The return of IDPs is hampered by the relative economic underdevelopment of the East and Southeast. The major outstanding obstacles preventing IDPs from returning to their villages are the government sponsored village guard system; the problem of landmines; the absence of basic infrastructure; and the lack of capital and employment opportunities. The discretionary power of each provincial Governor also plays a crucial role in the implementation of the legal and administrative provisions regulating return. Future measures need to address specifically the recommendations of the UN Secretary General’s Special Representative for Displaced Persons. The attitude of the Turkish government is striking in its lack of urgency


It will be necessary to normalise relations with Armenia. The issue of the disappearance of the large Armenian population from west Armenia remains to be dealt with. Genocide has been always denied by the Turkish government. The Armenian government has not pressed the issue, but has not sought to prevent it being pursued by the Armenian Diaspora. The situation has been further exacerbated by the eruption and evolution of the war in Karabakh.

1.2 Economic

Turkey is considered to be a lower middle-income economy. Its per capita income is relatively low compared to the EU. The GDP per capita in terms of Purchasing Power (PPS) was in 2003 at 28.5% of the EU-25 average, comparable to the level of Bulgaria and Romania. Measured in current prices in 2003, the Turkish GDP was equivalent to about 2% of the GDP of EU-25 or just half of the ten new Member States.

With its population of about 70 million, Turkey is broadly equivalent to the ten new Member States taken together and accounts for 15.5% of the EU-25 population. The demographic trend differs significantly from the present Member States, with an annual average population growth of 1.8%, compared to 0.2% of the EU-25. However, the declining trend in population growth rates will in the longer term turn the current demographic structure into that of an ageing society similar to what most Member States currently face. Turkish accession would add over 80 million additional consumers to the EU25 total of 452 million, although with a per capita purchasing power substantially lower than the EU25 average. Compared to previous acceding countries Turkey is larger, more populous and poorer. It is also more protected in market terms than most.

After a period of severe crisis in 2000-01, the Turkish economy has bounced back and is now among the fastest growing economies in the OECD. Inflation has also declined sharply and could fall to a single digit annual rate in 2005 for the first time in decades. Convergence with EU acquis and close co-operation with the IMF and the World Bank have contributed to this momentum. However only strong and sustained growth, together with structural reforms, can help absorb the growing working age population into employment. In its recent report, the OECD has outlined a virtuous circle which could allow Turkey a sustained 7% growth rate. The recent programme of macro-stabilisation and institutional reforms, endorsed by two successive governments have begun the process of addressing the weaknesses in the economy. Combined with the process of sharply reducing inflation, confidence has improved, which has helped stop the drift to the black economy, and combined with a positive response to the opening of accession negotiations, could have a beneficial effect on foreign investment.

The black economy is believed to be in the order of 50% of the registered economy, partly due to the numbers who have moved from rural areas, seeking work and are living in shanty towns on the fringes of large cities. Such an economy feeds off itself, because it means that legitimate business is subject to very high taxes and costs, and the temptation increases all the time to resort to the black market.


Agriculture is of key importance to Turkey, both in social and economic terms. About half of Turkey’s area of some 79 million hectares is devoted to agriculture, which is roughly in line with the EU27 average (48%). Turkish accession would therefore add about 39 million hectares to the EU’s agricultural area. This would represent 23% of the EU-25 agricultural area. In 2003 roughly one third of the workforce was employed in agriculture, and in the same year the sector represented 12.2% of GDP. The climatic and geographical conditions across the country permit a wide range of different farming activities. Roughly 50% of Turkey’s agricultural area is devoted to arable crops (of which about 20% is fallow land and 20% irrigated), 25% to permanent meadows and pastures and 2.5% to permanent crops. There are significant regional differences in production patterns.

The farm structure in Turkey shows similarities with some of the new member states and with Bulgaria and Romania. According to the 2001 census there are approximately 3 million agricultural holdings in Turkey (compared to nearly 13 million in the EU-25), most of which are family farms employing family labour. Figures for the average size of holdings suggest that holdings are small by EU standards (6 hectares on average compared to an EU-25 average of 13 hectares). Subsistence and semi-subsistence farming is an important characteristic of Turkish agriculture, as is the case in certain regions of the current EU and in Bulgaria and Romania. These farms are typically characterised by productivity being low and only a small fraction of production being marketed. They are difficult to reach with traditional market and price policies, but are crucial for the income security and livelihood of the majority of the rural population in Turkey. The competitiveness of its agriculture and agri-food enterprises is, on the whole, less on average than in the EU.

Historically, Turkey has had a highly protected agricultural market in tariff terms. While import protection remains high, since 2000 Turkey has been implementing an agricultural reform programme aiming at re-orienting agricultural support, achieving a balance of supply and demand, creating a more competitive agricultural sector and reducing state involvement. The reform process is still not complete, but it has had some positive impact, for example on the levels of the most trade distorting types of support. It is clear however that Turkey’s agricultural policy still differs substantially from that of the EU. However, some sectors of Turkish agriculture see real potential once they have free access to the European market, with the possibility of year round supply of Mediterranean type fruit and vegetables – the California of Europe.

Regional Disparities

Two thirds of the total Turkish population live in Istanbul, Ankara, Izmir and other large cities. In these cities, over 80% of total value added is generated. Istanbul and other large cities have experienced high immigration from rural areas. Turkey is characterised by large regional disparities which broadly follow a West-East pattern. The richest regions are located in the western part of the country while the poorest ones are at the eastern border. The richest region Kocaeli, an important manufacturing location, has a GDP per capita of more than 90% above the national average (46% of the EU-25 average). At the other end of the scale, the poorest regions Agri and Van have only about one third of the national GDP per capita (8% of the EU-25 average).


The view of the European Commission is that a great deal needs to be done to bring Turkish environmental policy up to an EU standard. In particular, it expresses concern at the loss of habitats. The cost of an environmental clean up to meet EU standards will be of the order of $20bn. Turkey has not ratified the Kyoto agreement.

1.3 Standard of Administration

Parliament adopted in June and July 2004 a package on the reform of the public administration. This includes in particular a Framework Law on Public Sector Reform, a Law on Special Provincial Administration, as well as a Law on Municipalities and Metropolitan Municipalities. Taken together, the purpose of the four laws is to reform the division of competences and duties between the four levels of administration (central, provincial, metropolitan and municipal) and to improve performance. In principle, this wide ranging and ambitious reform aims to convert the country’s centralised, hierarchical and secretive administrative system into a decentralized, participatory, transparent, responsive and accountable model.

Apart from the law on Metropolitan Municipalities, the reforms could not enter into force as several articles under these laws were vetoed by the President on the grounds that they violate the relevant constitutional provisions, in particular those related to the unitary character of the public administration. As a result, Parliament will have to review the legislation.


Turkey has ratified the appropriate international agreements against corruption. A number of anti-corruption measures have been adopted, in particular in establishing ethical rules for public servants. A Parliamentary report about corruption cases involving former members of the government was published in July 2003. Despite these legislative developments, corruption remains a very serious problem in almost all areas of the economy and public affairs.

1.4 Cyprus

The Turkish government supported the Annan plan, and played a very positive role in its preparation. But the Turkish government refuses to recognise the Republic of Cyprus. Turkey has refused to sign the protocol which would adapt the Ankara Agreement to take account of the accession of the new Member States. Pending this signature, it has not extended the Customs Union to the Republic of Cyprus.

The Committee believes that Turkey has an obligation to recognise Cyprus, since it is now a Member State of the European Union and should also extend the Customs Union to the Republic of Cyprus. Failure to do this could cause difficulties on 17th December 2004 when a decision will be made whether or not to open negotiations with Turkey in relation to accession. This is despite the fact the Turkish Ambassador to Ireland has stated that following the Helsinki European Council, the government was told that Cyprus would not be an issue in accession negotiations and this was reiterated by the then Commissioner for Enlargement.

1.5 What happens if the Union says no?

It seems likely that the European Council on 17th December will accept that negotiations should start. That does not mean that negotiations will necessarily conclude successfully. Either Turkey will be deemed not to have met the criteria, Turkey will consider the requirements onerous or unfair, or European public opinion will become so unhappy with the prospect that it will not be possible for the governments of the twenty-five to continue. Each of these could leave relations between the European Union and Turkey embittered and strained.

In Turkey, it will certainly have the effect of leaving the “modernisers” in a difficult position and is likely to turn back the clock in terms of the domestic reforms. The government and the political system could be blamed, and this may strengthen those parts of the military who always mistrusted the European project. Official Turkey may turn away from western Europe and seek to establish better relations with Russia, or even China.

The position of Turkey vis a vis the rest of the Islamic world could also be changed. Turkey’s current position is sui generis, with a close relationship with the United States and Israel. The argument that it would have a positive impact on the rest of the Moslem world if Turkey were to become a full member of the European Union is uncertain, given the unique nature of much about Turkey. But, if negotiations were to fail, it does seem likely that this would have a negative impact, because then it could be said that the European Union had rejected Turkey, only because it was Moslem.

Turkey has an ambivalent relationship with its Arab neighbours, because of the history of the Ottoman Empire in which most Arab States were colonies. The shared religion of Islam does create a special understanding between them. Throughout the rest of the Islamic world, Turkey’s membership of the Union would be a positive contribution in reassuring Moslems, both within and without the union, that the European Union is not antagonistic to the Islamic faith.

Chapter 2: Challenges for Europe

Impact of Previous and Potential future enlargements of the EU1

Increase in Surface Area

Increase in Population

Increase in Total GDPº

Change in per Capita GDP*

Average per Capita GDP* (EU 15 = 100)



















º in euros

* in PPS, 2003 GDP data

2.1 Coherence

Although there are enormous challenges facing Turkey in its efforts to re-model its constitutional and political systems to adapt to the possibility of membership of the European Union, there are equal challenges for the Union in dealing with the issues facing it – apart from any of the particular aspects of an eventual Turkish membership. Turkish membership would take place, not of a Union of 27, but of a larger Union, which is likely to include Croatia and some of the Balkan states. Even if the Turkish accession period is the 10-15 years of which people speak, this marks a huge change in the Union from a group of ten relatively rich countries to more than thirty, the majority of them poor, and many of them still with inadequate administrative capacity.

The opportunity for developing the internal market and the possibilities for growth which is offered by the 5th enlargement are exciting but need to be developed. The great projects of the Union in the last twenty years are not absolutely guaranteed.

  • The development of the internal market is well under way in the existing 15, although it has a long way to go to develop a true market in services. In the new member countries, in spite of strong commitment, the requirement for administrative capacity and the cost to industry of meeting the standards is very high indeed.
  • Economic and monetary union is also well under way, but the political anxieties of some members of the 15 and the uncertainty of its future governance, mean it is far from accomplished.
  • At the time the decision to begin negotiations, the future of the Constitutional Treaty is not certain. While the Union could probably have muddled on without it, any rejection at this stage will be a blow to its self-confidence and coherence.

If the European Union is over extended there is a real risk that certain countries, which saw themselves as core would decide to move ahead on issues close to their heart. There is also the possibility that different member states would belong to a number of different “cores”, so that the whole coherence of Union action would be lost.

2.2 Identity

The issue of identity is much harder to deal with, because it is harder to define. Turkey has its own strong system values and spiritual heritage, but it shares very little of the heritage of Christianity and of the Enlightenment of western and central Europe.

The first article of the Draft Constitutional Treaty states:

“The Union shall be open to all European States which respect its values and are committed to promoting them together.”

Is Turkey a European country? The Council of Europe said it was, in 1994.2

The arguments about what constitute Europe become almost circular on reflection. Is Europe a community of history or of values? If it is a community of values, and a country is prepared to make significant efforts to meet these values – thereby showing its real aspiration to European values – does that not make it a European country? Otherwise it becomes an issue of geography, and it does seem difficult to build something as specific as the European Union with its aspiration to shared values purely on accidents of geography.

The history of Turkey is intertwined with that of the rest of Europe, from the time the papacy took refuge in Byzantium, after Rome was sacked by northern tribes. From the fall of Byzantium to the Battle of Lepanto the relationship was one of conflict between the Ottomans and that of other European powers, which has left a bitter legacy in many parts of eastern and central Europe. The Ottoman Empire was an expansionist power but so too were other states which are now members of the European Union.

There is also an argument that much of the territory of Turkey lies outside the geographical definition of Europe. But Ireland, in the Good Friday Agreement, gave an international lead in dividing identity from territory, so it is difficult now for this Committee to return to it as an essential criterion.

However, while strong arguments, on a case by case basis, can be made for each new entrant, it is certain that Ukraine would likely increase its efforts to become a candidate country following a decision to open accession negotiations with Turkey. The geo-political issues raised by Ukrainian membership are very different, but the problem of boundaries raises itself once more. Much of nineteenth century history was dominated by central and eastern Europe’s unfortunate lack of clear geographic and ethnic borders, and it may take many decades of the twenty first century to find a solution which is not based on numbers and power.

2.3 Low growth in Europe

In a recent report, the Joint Committee dealt with many of the problems facing the economy of the European Union. In particular the impact of demographic change was highlighted. Even if the Lisbon target rate of 70% employment is reached, with a constant rate of employment afterwards, an overall decline of employment could be expected after 2010, and the fall in the number of employed people between 2010 and 2030 would be of the order of 20 million workers for EU-25. The decline in the total volume of employment implies a negative contribution of employment to economic growth. In order for a growth rate of 3% to be achieved, there would have to be very large increased in productivity.

Europe’s economy is already lagging behind its main competitor – the US. For instance for the standard of living in the EU to catch up with t hat of the United States within the coming 20 years, the EU would have to experience, on average, an annual growth rate 1.7 point higher than the US growth rate. Europe needs to inject more competition into the field of services, liberalised further the network industries, improve opportunities for business in public procurement, promote labour and skills mobility. For the foreseeable future, growth rates in the European Union are expected to be in the order of 2%.

Turkish membership would give a boost to the economy, because every extension of the internal market does improve activity and growth. Turkish membership would bring 70 million more consumers, but many of them are poor. There is a risk that the existing European Union would not be able to sustain the kind of budget increases which Turkish entry would require, based on the levels of transfers to the previous entrants. To expect Turkey to accept a less favoured treatment than those countries which happened to enter sooner, would go against all the principles of the Union and the statements of the European Councils since Helsinki in 1999.

Chapter 3: Implications of membership of Turkey

There is real unease in many parts of Europe at the prospect of Turkey becoming a member, and this unease needs to be reflected in the political debate which is taking place. It is important that this debate happens now and not when promises are given which cannot be delivered on. Much of the unease relates to the fact that Turkey is a Moslem country and as such is considered to be irreconcilably alien. There are commentators who, in seeking to define Europe, believe that it was defined by its fight against Islam – the Moors of Spain and the Ottoman attacks from the east. Others talk of the experience of Turkish migrants and their failure to integrate.

There is also a line of argument which says that Turkey can only be judged if it meets the relevant criteria, same as anyone else. There is an argument that it must join the European Union to show that it is possible to have a successful, modern, democratic Islamic state. (It is important not to mix the arguments: if Turkey cannot be barred because of religion and geography, it cannot be assured membership for reasons of religion and geography!)

This debate has been very heated in some countries, but not so in Ireland. It has lead some commentators to say that Turkey cannot ever be a member, and that it is an error even to begin to contemplate it. Turkey should be offered some kind of special relationship. The Joint Committee does not agree with this point of view. It believes that Turkey, if it meets the relevant criteria, should be allowed aspire to full membership.

However, it is important that this debate takes place – other member states have had different historical or social experiences than Ireland. But the debate must take place in good faith, with a real respect for the beliefs and attitudes of others. Whatever the outcome of such a debate, it in itself could have the value of leading to a better understanding of a culture and society which has been so misunderstood and misrepresented in the West in recent year.

3.1 Migration

Turkey experienced significant outward migration after the early 1960s, when some European countries actively recruited workers. Net outward migration reached its peak in the first half of the 1960s, with about 80, 000 net-migrants per year, or about 0.5 % of the Turkish labour force. This wave of migration did not continue.

Since the 1980s, the flow of migration has been, on the whole, for family re-unification purposes. In 2002, about 3 million Turkish nationals were officially registered in the EU-15. The main recipient countries were Germany (with almost 80% or 2.3 million persons), France, Austria and the Netherlands, with substantial, but much smaller numbers. Turkish nationals constitute by far the largest group of third-country nationals in the EU (about 25 % of all third-country nationals).

The status which Turkish workers at present enjoy under Community law lies between that of European Union citizens and third-country nationals, but Turkish nationals do not have the right to move to an EU Member State or between the EU Member States in order to take up employment. However, once duly registered as belonging to the labour force of a particular Member State, Turkish workers enjoy a considerable number of individual rights in that host Member State

There are concerns that a possible large and uncontrolled increase in migration to the EU could lead to serious disturbances in the labour markets of some of the present Member States. Estimates for the long term impact, i.e. by 2025/2030, based primarily on expected income differences, tend to give very varying figures (ranging from broadly 0.5 to 4 million potential Turkish immigrants to EU Member States). Other studies emphasise the relative stability of overall migratory pressures independently of accession or recall the developments observed over time in Spain and Portugal, where initial emigration was subsequently reversed.

Based on the experience that Turkish workers tend to migrate alongside networks of already established relatives, the biggest share of additional migrants to the EU would most likely go to Germany, France, Netherlands and Austria. In addition to the general conditions for economic growth and employment, the actual migration flows are influenced by pull factors such as wage differentials between Turkey and the recipient countries but also by push factors, such as the labour market situation in Turkey itself.

If the virtuous circle which the OECD proposes to Turkey were to occur and it was to introduce appropriate labour market policies, the young population will be integrated into the labour market, the migration potential of Turkey will probably decrease. In particular, sustained progress by Turkey in areas such as social policy, employment, health and education could reduce the pressure for migration. As regards demographic developments, it can be noted that population growth and fertility rates are in decline and estimated by the UN to fall to 1.05 % and 2.0 children per woman in the period 2010-2015.

It is not a coincidence that the countries articulating the greatest concern are those which have the largest number of Turkish immigrants. There has been a marked inability of these communities to integrate into their host countries. The reasons vary: many of the workers who came, came from the poorest regions with an exclusively rural background; they were not encouraged to integrate eg German citizenship laws; the observance of Islam meant that they could not integrate in to culturally very diverse host societies. But what is now clear is that it is not just the original migrants who have not integrated, but in many cases, their children as well.

There is no doubt that this will be one of the most contentious issues in the negotiations and the possibility exists of a permanent safeguard clause to restrict the free movement of workers

3.2 CFSP

Turkey is situated at a regional crossroads of strategic importance for Europe: the Balkans, Caucasus, Central Asia, Middle East and Eastern Mediterranean; its territory is a transit route for land and air transport with Asia, and for sea transport with Russia and the Ukraine. Its neighbours provide key energy supplies for Europe, and it has substantial water resources. Turkey’s membership in the EU should not pose any unexpected problems for the EU’s external relations but the Union will inevitably be drawn closer to several regions of continuing political and economic instability. Turkish membership could however be an asset for the EU in seeking to promote its interest in these regions. Whether the European Union will have the political will to develop the kind of foreign policy and security structures it will need when it extends is territory into such sensitive neighbourhoods is one of the most critical questions relating to Turkish accession

Turkey has the largest armed forces in Europe and spends proportionately more on defence than any other European member of NATO. Through its integration in the western alliance, and membership of many economic and regional organisations, it contributes to the security of Europe and its neighbourhood. Turkish consent, though grudgingly given, within NATO was essential for the EU’s ambitions to create its own military capacity based on access to NATO’s European assets.

Turkey is already a well integrated partner in European policy formation and there is a regular dialogue established as part of the accession strategy. There is ongoing exchanges of view on international issues, such as Southern Caucasus, Western Balkans, the Middle East Process, the Mediterranean and Middle East regions, Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan and effective multilateralism.

During the Convention on the Future of Europe Turkey was broadly supportive of proposals to strengthen CFSP/ESDP. It nevertheless favoured a reference to the NATO obligations of certain Member States in the final text.

Turkey has been and remains a key ally of the United States, but was not prepared to support it in its attack on Iraq, and is angry that its advice on the conduct of the early stages of the war were not listened to.

Turkey will be vigilant regarding future developments in Iraq given the large degree of autonomy enjoyed by the Kurds in northern Iraq. There are also significant Kurdish minorities in Iran and Syria (circa six and one million respectively).

Recently Turkey and Iran have up-graded their relationship with regular dialogues on political and security issues. Economic and social relations between Turkey and Syria have drastically improved following the Syrian decision to withdraw its support for the PKK and to deport its leader, Abdullah Öcalan, from Syria in 1998. However, disputes over Turkey’s large-scale programme of dam-building and irrigation in south-east is a very difficult issue.

In the Southern Caucasus, Turkey has very good relations with both Azerbaijan and Georgia. Numerous agreements have been signed with these countries and Turkey also has two diaspora communities from the region.

Turkey has close cultural and linguistic ties with the states of Central Asia. It sought to become a regional leader at the time of the break-up of the Soviet Union but was not able to bear the financial burden at the time. These close geographic and cultural ties have so far provided an advantage to Turkey’s economic initiatives in the region and more than one thousand Turkish companies operate in the region. Turkey also provides military assistance and training in Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and Kyrgystan.

3.3 Border Security

Turkey’s accession to the European Union would lengthen the external border. To this new external land border of 2,477 km should be added the Black Sea blue border which runs for 1,762 km and the Aegean and Mediterranean blue border which runs for 4,768 km.

In order to ensure its own security, Turkey already devotes considerable resources to border management; some 64 000 personnel are deployed on border management tasks. Although it is unlikely that Turkey would join Schengen from the day of its accession, it would at some stage become responsible for ensuring an efficient protection of the new external border and hence have to play a key role in ensuring the security of the Union itself.

3.4 Implications for Ireland

The position of the Irish government, at the moment, is neutral to positive. It appears clear that the work done by the 2004 Irish presidency and the good bi-lateral relations developed, have left a very positive impression in Ankara.

The direct implications for Ireland on the economic or financial front are uncertain, but unlikely to be great. Ireland, however, will certainly benefit from the increase in the size of the internal market and the addition of some 70m new consumers. Ireland will be a net contributor to the EU budget by the time Turkish draw downs are likely to feature to any significant extent, so the issue for this country over the next few years will be in negotiating the financial perspectives package which best suits Ireland.

Turkey will not be a competitor in manufactured goods or agricultural products. It is unlikely to be a competitor for FDI, because the Turkish economy is at a stage of development different to Ireland. On the other hand, a growing Turkish economy may well offer investment opportunities to Irish firms.

Migration is an area where there may be threats or opportunities for Ireland, depending on the state of the labour market in this country or whether complete freedom of movement is part of the final Treaty of Accession for Turkey.

Where Ireland certainly will loose is in the institutional sense. The size of the Turkish population will give it a voting power in the Council equal to that of Germany and will reduce the importance of the voting power of the smaller member states. In particular, in the European Parliament, Ireland will pay a price. Given that the number of members of parliament is capped at 750, and that Turkey would probably have 96 members, the same as Germany, there would be a commensurate reduction in the number of deputies from other countries, including Ireland.

3.5 Implications for Budget

Given its size and level of economic development, Turkey’s accession would undoubtedly have an important impact on the EU budget Just as the EU’s spending policies may undergo important changes prior to Turkey’s accession, the revenue side of the EU budget will also be affected as current arrangements for the funding of EU expenditure are unlikely to remain the same in the future either.

The most useful calculations on what the likely impact for the budget are contained in a working paper, published in June 20041. An analysis in 1999 prices of Budget Estimates for Turkey based on the Financial Packages for the New Ten and Bulgaria and Romania and Budget Estimates for Turkey based on 4% GDP limit for structural funds and on the financial package for Bulgaria & Romania gives a total for the first 3 years of €45.5billion, comparable to the €40.8 billion received by the new member states of the 2004 enlargement and in budget receipts per head of population almost identical to the receipts per head of population of the new members.

Based on a theoretical overall internal policies envelope equivalent to that proposed by the Commission in February 2004 for the final year of the 2007-2013 financial perspective, an upwards adjustment to take into account Turkey’s membership using the same method as applied in the case of the ten new member states would result in an additional €2.6 billion of expenditure per year (2004 prices).

Turkey’s accession will also bring with it its own particular challenges which will need to be addressed in the context of the Union’s internal policies, not least in respect of expenditure on citizenship freedom, security and justice given the extent and nature of the EU’s future external border in Turkey.

As far as payments into the EU budget are concerned, this is largely funded on the basis of contributions from the Member States based on gross national income (GNI) or national wealth. Assuming annual GNI growth in Turkey of 4-5% and, for illustrative purposes, a contribution rate (not including traditional own resources) to the EU budget of 1% of GNI, in 2025 Turkey’s contribution to the EU budget would be just over €5.6 billion (2004 prices).

It should be stressed that all calculations are speculative, because the details and the timing of an accession, as well as the configuration of EU policies at that time, are unknown. However, scenarios based on the status-quo show that full integration of Turkey into EU policies represents a considerable financial burden.

In isolation these costs are sustainable, but, in combination with constantly rising expenditures for new member countries, and those required for further ancillary enlargements (Bulgaria, Romania, other Balkan states) as well as those for new tasks (foreign and security policy, Lisbon process), the funds to pay for transfers to Turkey may have to be obtained through an increase in the budget (which means tax rises) or cuts in receipts for current members. Neither prospect would be attractive to member states – but would be a real cost of the rapid pace of enlargement.

3.6 Energy

Turkey has only limited reserves of oil and natural gas, but substantial reserves of coal, particularly lignite. It will have a major role to play in the security of energy supply of the enlarged EU and is expected to develop further as a major oil and gas transit country. Accession of Turkey would extend the EU to the borders of the world’s most energy-rich regions in the Middle East and the Caspian Basin.

Turkey is also well positioned to serve as a central transit route for rising European energy needs. The Greek-Turkish Interconnector gas pipeline project demonstrates Turkey’s contribution to energy security. The project is expected to further connect gas pipelines to Italy and from there to the rest of Western Europe. Turkey has also engaged in the Nabucco natural gas pipeline project, which would extend from Turkey and Greece to Bulgaria and all the way to Austria.

Turkey plays an important role in the development of Caspian energy, notably with the Baku-Tiblisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline currently under construction and the planned gas pipeline to run alongside it to Erzerum. Turkey is already cooperating with Russia in the energy sector with the completion of the “Blue Stream” natural gas pipeline which travels from Russia to Turkey under the Black Sea. Moreover, talks are underway to build a new oil pipeline from Russia to Kiyiköy on Turkey’s Black Sea coast and then on to Ibrikbaba on the Aegean, known as the Trans-Thracian pipeline, which would allow Russian oil to reach the Mediterranean without having to pass through the congested Bosporus Straits.

It is also collaborating with the Mashreq countries in the project to bring natural gas from Egypt and eventually Iraq and Iran to the EU. Oil pipelines crossing Turkey will contribute to reduce environmental risks of shipping on the Mediterranean Sea and in the Strait of Bosphorus.

Annex 1: References

European Commission

2004 Regular Report on Turkey’s progress towards accession COM(2004) 656 final

Issues Arising form Turkey’s Membership Perspective. European Commission

An Agenda for a Growing Europe: Making the EU Economic System Deliver (Sapir report) July 2003

European Parliament

FINAL A6-0063/2004 3.12.2004 REPORT of the Committee on Foreign Affairs on the 2004 regular report and the recommendation of the European Commission on Turkey’s progress towards accession (COM(2004)0656 - C6-0148/2004 - 2004/2182(INI))

P5_TA(2004)0274. The resolution of the European Parliament of 1 April 2004 on the 2003 regular report of the Commission on Turkey’s progress towards accession and its previous resolutions adopted between 18 June 1987 and 1 April 2004

Joint Committee on European Affairs

Report on the Lisbon Agenda April 2004


Turkey and the European Union: Just another enlargement. Kirsty Hughes. Friends of Europe Working Paper. June 2004

Turkey in Europe: More than a promise? Report of the Independent Commission on Turkey, September 2004

EU Member Turkey? Preconditions, Consequences and Integration Alternatives Wolfgang Quaisser and Steve Wood, forost Arbeitspapier Nr. 25, Forschungsverbund Ost- und Südosteuropa (forost) October 2004

Last Chance for Turkey’s Displaced? Human Rights Watch Briefing Paper, October, 2004

POLICY BRIEF Economic Survey of Turkey, OECD, Paris, 2004

Honouring of obligations and commitments by Turkey. Report of Committee on the Honouring of Obligations and Commitments by Member States of the Council of Europe Doc. 10111 of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe. March 2004

Annex 2: Terms of Reference

Joint Committee Orders of Reference

Dáil Éireann on 16 October 2002 ordered:

That the Orders of Reference of the Select Committee on European Affairs established on 27th June 2002, be amended by the insertion of the following Orders of Reference in substitution thereof:

    1. That a Select Committee, which shall be called the Select Committee on European Affairs, consisting of 11 Members of Dáil Éireann (of whom four shall constitute a quorum), be appointed to consider—
      1. such Bills the statute law in respect of which is dealt with by the Department of Foreign Affairs;
      2. such proposals contained in any motion, including any motion within the meaning of Standing Order 157 concerning the approval by the Dáil of international agreements involving a charge on public funds,

      as shall be referred to it by Dáil Éireann from time to time.
    2. For the purpose of its consideration of Bills and proposals under paragraphs (1)(a)(i) and (ii), the Select Committee shall have the powers defined in Standing Order 81(1), (2) and (3).
    3. For the avoidance of doubt, by virtue of his or her ex officio membership of the Select Committee in accordance with Standing Order 90(1), the Minister for Foreign Affairs (or a Minister or Minister of State nominated in his or her stead) shall be entitled to vote.
    1. The Select Committee shall be joined with a Select Committee to be appointed by Seanad Éireann to form the Joint Committee on European Affairs to-
      1. scrutinise, in the context of European Union issues and measures to be taken by the Council of Ministers of the European Union-
        1. any proposals under the Community treaties for legislation by the Council or the Council acting jointly with the European Parliament,
        2. any document which is published for submission to the European Council, the Council or the European Central Bank,
        3. any proposal for a common strategy, a joint action or a common position under Title V of the Treaty on European Union which is prepared for submission to the Council or to the European Council,
        4. any proposal for a common position, framework decision, decision or a convention under Title VI of the Treaty on European Union which is prepared for submission to the Council,
        5. any document (not falling within (II), (III), or (IV) above) which is published by one Union institution for or with a view to submission to another Union institution and which does not relate exclusively to the consideration of any proposal for legislation,
        6. any other document relating to European Union matters deposited in both Houses of the Oireachtas by a Member of the Government or Minister of State,

        as it may select;
      2. consider such matters arising from Ireland’s membership of the European Communities and its adherence to the Treaty on European Union, as it may select;
      3. consider such -
        1. acts of the institutions of the European Communities,
        2. regulations under the European Communities Acts, 1972 to 1998,
        3. other instruments made under statute and necessitated by the obligations of membership of the European Communities,

        as it may select;
      4. consider such other matters as may be referred to it from time to time by both Houses of the Oireachtas;
      5. represent both Houses of the Oireachtas at the Conference of European Affairs Committees (COSAC);

      and shall report thereon to both Houses of the Oireachtas.
    2. The Joint Committee shall have:
      1. the powers defined in Standing Order 81(1) to (9) inclusive;
      2. the power to refer a proposal for EU legislation which has been considered by it (and which has been concluded to be of sufficient national importance to require further scrutiny) to a Joint Committee on which has been conferred the power defined in Standing Order 81(4) to consider such proposals;
      3. the power to request the presence of Members of the Government (or Ministers of State nominated in their stead) (or, in the case of the European Council, the Taoiseach or Minister for Foreign Affairs) to attend before the Joint Committee and provide, in private session if so desired by the Member of the Government or Minister of State, oral briefings in advance of Council meetings to enable the Joint Committee to make known its views.
    3. The following persons may attend meetings of the Joint Committee and of its sub-Committees and may take part in proceedings without having a right to vote or to move motions and amendments—
      1. Members of the European Parliament elected from constituencies in Ireland (including Northern Ireland);
      2. members of the Irish delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe;
      3. at the invitation of the Joint Committee or of a sub-Committee, as appropriate, other Members of the European Parliament.
    4. The quorum of the Joint Committee shall be five, of whom at least one shall be a Member of Dáil Éireann and one a Member of Seanad Éireann.
  1. The Chairman of the Joint Committee, who shall be a Member of Dáil Éireann, shall also be Chairman of the Select Committee.’.”

*Seanad Éireann on 17 October 2002 ordered:

    1. That a Select Committee consisting of 4 members of Seanad Éireann shall be appointed to be joined with a Select Committee of Dáil Éireann to form the Joint Committee on European Affairs to -
      1. scrutinise, in the context of European Union issues and measures to be taken by the Council of Ministers of the European Union,
        1. any proposals under the Community treaties for legislation by the Council or the Council acting jointly with the European Parliament,
        2. any document which is published for submission to the European Council, the Council or the European Central Bank,
        3. any proposal for a common strategy, a joint action or a common position under Title V of the Treaty on European Union which is prepared for submission to the Council or to the European Council,
        4. any proposal for a common position, framework decision, decision or a convention under Title VI of the Treaty on European Union which is prepared for submission to the Council,
        5. any document (not falling within (II), (III), or (IV) above) which is published by one Union institution for or with a view to submission to another Union institution and which does not relate exclusively to the consideration of any proposal for legislation,
        6. any other document relating to European Union matters deposited in both Houses of the Oireachtas by a Member of the Government or Minister of State,

        as it may select;
      2. consider such matters arising from Ireland’s membership of the European Communities and its adherence to the Treaty on European Union,
        as it may select;
      3. consider such -
        1. acts of the institutions of the European Communities,
        2. regulations under the European Communities Acts, 1972 to 1998,
        3. other instruments made under statute and necessitated by the obligations of membership of the European Communities,

        as it may select;
      4. consider such other matters as may be referred to it from time to time by both Houses of the Oireachtas;
      5. represent both Houses of the Oireachtas at the Conference of European Affairs Committees (COSAC);

      and shall report thereon to both Houses of the Oireachtas.
    2. The Joint Committee shall have:
      1. the powers defined in Standing Order 65 (1) to (9) inclusive;
      2. the power to refer a proposal for EU legislation which has been considered by it (and which has been concluded to be of sufficient national importance to require further scrutiny) to a Joint Committee on which has been conferred the power defined in Standing Order 65(4) to consider such proposals;
      3. the power to request the presence of Members of the Government (or Ministers of State nominated in their stead) (or, in the case of the European Council, the Taoiseach or Minister for Foreign Affairs) to attend before the Joint Committee and provide, in private session if so desired by the Member of the Government or Minister of State, oral briefings in advance of Council meetings to enable the Joint Committee to make known its views.
    3. The following persons may attend meetings of the Joint Committee and of its sub-Committees and may take part in proceedings without having a right to vote or to move motions and amendments—
      1. members of the European Parliament elected from constituencies in Ireland (including Northern Ireland);
      2. members of the Irish delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe;
      3. at the invitation of the Joint Committee or of a sub-Committee, as appropriate, other Members of the European Parliament.
    4. The quorum of the Joint Committee shall be five, of whom at least one shall be a Member of Dáil Éireann and one a Member of Seanad Éireann.
  1. The Chairman of the Joint Committee shall be a Member of Dáil Éireann.

*Seanad Éireann on 23rd October 2002 ordered:

That the Orders of Reference of the Select Committee on European Affairs be amended in paragraph 1(a) by the substitution of ‘6 members’ for ‘4 members’.”

Annex 3: List of Members

Joint Committee on European Affairs


Siobhán Malone


Bernard Allen


Barry Andrews

(FF)2 Vice Chairman

John Deasy

(FG)3 Chairman

Marian Harkin


Séamus Kirk


Michael Mulcahy


Aengus O’Snodaigh


Ruairí Quinn


Mae Sexton


Dan Wallace


Joe Walsh



Paul Bradford


John Dardis


Don Lydon


Derek McDowell


Ann Ormonde


Feargal Quinn


Annex 4: Transcripts of Relevant Meetings

Transcript of the Joint Committee on European Affairs meeting with Mr. Andy O’Rourke of the Institute of European Affairs, 03 November 2004

EU Membership: Motion.

Chairman: We shall discuss the motion on Turkey’s application for membership of the EU, which was submitted by Deputy Haughey and circulated last week.

Deputy Haughey: I move:

That the case for and against Turkish membership of the EU be clearly put to the joint committee and that the EU Commissioner report on this matter be made available to the members.

I am sure the committee will be able to agree on this, thereby allowing us to proceed to the next item.

On 6 October 2004 the European Commission published three reports: the annual regular reports on progress towards accession of Bulgaria, Romania and Turkey; the strategy paper on progress in the enlargement progress, which includes recommendations on Bulgaria, Romania, Croatia and Turkey; and, as part of the regular report on Turkey, a paper that examines the issues raised by that country’s possible membership of the EU. The next day, the Minister addressed this committee as follows:

I welcome the very important report and recommendation on Turkey presented by the Commission yesterday. Successive European Councils, including the meeting in June under Ireland’s Presidency, have given a commitment that if this December’s European Council decides on the basis of the Commission report and recommendation that Turkey fulfils the political criteria for membership, the European Union will open accession negotiations without delay. We have strongly encouraged the Government of Turkey to maintain the impressive performance of recent years in legislating for reform and to ensure the full implementation of these reforms.

The Commission report and recommendation, and its initial impact study of the consequences of Turkish accession, are very comprehensive. They deserve close study as we prepare for the important decision to be taken by the European Council in December. The Commission concluded that in view of the overall progress of reforms, and provided that Turkey brings into force certain key outstanding legislation, it considered Turkey sufficiently fulfilled the political criteria and recommended that accession negotiations be opened. It elaborated on a detailed strategy for the pursuit of negotiations and made it clear that it would be part of an open-ended process the outcome of which could not be guaranteed beforehand. The Government will study the Commission’s report fully. I am sure the Government of Turkey will do likewise and will redouble its efforts in the weeks and months ahead to ensure the conditions are in place for a positive decision by the European Council in December, leading to the opening of accession negotiations.

The European Commission has therefore concluded that Turkey has sufficiently fulfilled the political criteria for candidate countries and recommends that, provided certain key legislative reforms are implemented in time, accession negotiations should be opened. The European Council will have to decide in December if the political criteria have been fulfilled and whether to open negotiations. A date for the opening of negotiations will then have to be agreed.

I strongly believe that the Oireachtas, through this joint committee, should have a role to play in this process. This committee, which is made up of democratically elected representatives, should examine this issue comprehensively and independently and give its considered advice to the Taoiseach and the Minister for Foreign Affairs in advance of the European Council meeting in December. The role of this committee is evolving. We have undertaken pioneering work on the scrutiny of EU legislation and on the preparations of the Minister for Foreign Affairs for meetings of the General Affairs and External Relations Council.

Last week, we passed a motion concerning the Middle East against the advice of the Minister of State at the Department of Foreign Affairs, Deputy Treacy. That was a significant development. An independent examination by the Oireachtas of the Turkish application will further enhance the role of this joint committee.

Many Irish people are unaware and uninformed of the major EU issues of the day. We are all conscious of the so-called democratic deficit. I suggest that Irish citizens would be very interested in this particular question and it is up to this committee to commence an informed debate today. The visit by the Joint Committee on European Affairs to Turkey from 16 to 20 November will also play an important part in our deliberations. I understand that Mr. Andy O’Rourke from the Institute of European Affairs will begin our discussions today and present the case for and against Turkish accession.

Some of the concerns expressed to me since I first drew attention to this particular question relate to Cyprus. Turkey refuses to recognise the Republic of Cyprus, which is an EU member state. The Commission expects that Turkey will soon sign the adaptation protocol to the Ankara agreement for extending the terms of the Customs Union to take account of the accession of the ten new member states. This will have to be monitored carefully.

The Commission report also states that Turkey should abolish restrictive measures against vessels of Cypriot interest or other Community vessels that approach its ports. The prohibition on Cyprus-registered aircraft from using internationally approved air corridors over Turkey should be lifted. Turkey will have to cease to veto Cyprus’s accession to a number of regional and international organisations. There will be a need for freedom of expression in Turkey, especially concerning Turkey’s policies in Cyprus. It should also be remembered that Turkey maintains an occupying military force in Cyprus, which is an EU member state.

These are not insignificant issues and there are many others to be considered. Other concerns are more practical, including the estimated €28 million price tag, the threat of mass emigration to the west, and the question of adapting the EU institutions to accommodate the sheer size of Turkey. Human rights questions have also to be considered, as does the culture of Turkey, which is a predominantly Muslim country. If Turkey joins the EU, the Muslim population of the EU will increase from 3% to 16%. We need to ask whether Muslims can integrate and conform and whether the moderates can prevail over the increasing number of fundamentalists. One must also consider whether Turkey is a European country at all.

I hope this committee can address these issues both at this meeting and the next meeting set aside to consider this matter and also during its visit to Turkey. I am sure the motion is agreed. It merely calls for a debate and I am sure it will facilitate an informed discussion.

Question put and agreed to.

Institute of European Affairs: Presentation.

Mr. Andy O’Rourke: I should preface my remarks by saying the Institute of European Affairs is in the happy position of not having to take policy decisions or even recommend policy decisions on such a difficult question as Turkish membership of the European Union. With our limited resources we are putting together information, facts, opinions and attitudes on the subject which we think will be of help in encouraging an informed debate and of interest to our members, researchers and opinion formers. We will continue this work in the next month or so with seminars and round table discussions with a view to completing our information on the subject. We do not pretend we know everything there is to know about it. I sent a preliminary note which I hope committee members have received and on which I will base what I have to say, elaborating as I go along.

A somewhat heated debate is taking place in several member states of the European Union in the run-up to the meeting of the European Council on 17 December when, as Deputy Haughey said, a decision is expected on an opening date for negotiations. It is expected a decision will be taken one way or the other. The debate is heated, notably in France and Germany. While governments are generally in favour of a positive decision being made on 17 December, or at least not a negative one, it seems clear public opinion is more negative in several member states.

The debate is taking place against the background of the recent enlargement from 15 to 25 member states which reawakened many questions about the future of the European Union, where it is going and what it is about. Some of the questions are: if the European Union of 25 member states will settle down and work effectively with or without a European constitution. Now that the Union is about to expand to the shores of the Black Sea and into the Balkans, what are its proper limits? Can it keep on expanding indefinitely? How is it to handle relations with its new neighbours in the east and to the south which are sometimes unstable? What about the security of the Union; its political role in the world; its relations, for example, with the United States, China and other countries? Most importantly, questions arise about whether the rich member states will continue to put in money to pay for the economic and social integration of the poorer regions. In an extended European Union of 27 to 29 member states, there is also the question of whether there would be new core groupings. Would there be new alliances within the Union and would the euro group be strong enough to maintain a role as the essential core? These general and important questions arise in the debate as well as issues specific to Turkey, to which we will come.

Some member states strongly support the opening of negotiations, notably the United Kingdom. This immediately gives rise to questions in other member states about its motives. Importantly, Greece is in favour, at least for the moment. Cyprus which faces real problems is hesitant but apparently not expected to oppose at this stage. We await further developments. France and Germany are seriously split to a considerable extent at party level for internal political reasons, but their leaders are in favour. President Chirac has backed calls for a referendum if and when there is a draft accession treaty. This is not widely seen as a good idea but one perhaps which is gathering strength.

I have included in the preliminary sheet a few important statistics and facts about Turkey. Population is an important consideration. Turkey’s population is growing while the populations of most developed European countries are set for decline. Turkey’s population will equal that of Germany, about 82 million, in 2015 and is expected to reach 98 million in 2050 by which date the population of Germany will have declined to about 80 million. It is calculated that at that time Turkey will account for about 18% of the population of the European Union. In 2015 it will account for about 14.5%.

Turkey is very big; at 800,000 km2, it is more than ten times the size of Ireland. As it is only one and a half times the size of France, perhaps we should not exaggerate. Most of the country is underdeveloped. Some 3% of its land area is in Europe while 97% lies east of the Bosphorus in Asia. The official guidebook to Turkey describes it as a Eurasian country. At €6,256, GDP is low, about 28% of the EU average of €22,300. It is about the same as that for several of the recent accession countries, including Latvia.

Turkey’s constitution is based on Ataturk’s. It states the Republic of Turkey is a democratic, secular and social state governed by the supremacy of law, respecting human rights and committed to the nationalism of Ataturk. When the European Council decided in December 1999 to recognise Turkey as a candidate for accession, it was able to say it was considered to have the basic features of a democratic system but with serious shortcomings in terms of human rights and the protection of minorities. The constitution in its present form dates from 1982, although it has been amended substantially on several occasions to introduce important reforms. Civil rights organisations accept that this is the case but some maintain that proper reform of Turkish legislation should ideally have started with a complete overhaul of the constitution or even with a completely new constitution. They maintain that the current constitution still shows signs of its imposition under threat of a military regime and lacks legitimacy for this reason. Nevertheless, there is no doubt that considerable progress has been made in regard, for example, to fundamental constitutional rights and freedoms, the abolition of the death penalty, the independence of the judiciary, more civilian control over the military, a clampdown on police torture and so on.

I have set out briefly in my preliminary paper the history of Turkey’s relations with the European Communities and the European Union. I should add a reminder of the basic qualifications for membership. First, membership is open only to European countries which respect the values of the Union. In addition, the so-called Copenhagen criteria apply, the first of which, the political criteria, requires that an acceding country has stable institutions guaranteeing the rule of law, respect for human rights and the protection of minorities. The second, the economic criteria, requires the acceding country to have a functioning market economy, the capacity to deal with competition within the Single Market and the ability to implement the European Union’s rules and regulations, namely, the acquis. A further important consideration which is often overlooked is the ability to absorb a new member state, while maintaining the Union’s achievements and the ability to maintain the momentum of European integration.

With regard to arguments for and against opening negotiations with Turkey, there appears to be a counter-argument for every argument in favour. We will examine the issues of geography and religion together since they are at the heart of the debate about the effect Turkish membership would have on the future of the European Union, although I will not go into too much detail.

Many take the view that the argument that Turkey is ineligible for membership because it is not really a European country has long been conceded. The European Economic Community, as the European Union was known, accepted in its association agreement in the 1960s that Turkey had a vocation for membership. It has repeated this statement on many subsequent occasions. It is argued, therefore, that we should keep our word. To use the Latin phrase, pacta servanda sunt.

Not everybody accepts this view. Across a wide political spectrum in several member states the case is made that the European Union cannot expand indefinitely, particularly to non-European countries. For example, if Turkey is eligible, we cannot say no to Ukraine. Where do we stop? If it continues to grow, the Union will lose its identity as a political project and an original social model and become a mere common market or free trade area. According to the proponents of these arguments, the Union should tell Turkey that much has changed since the 1960s, that we cannot maintain the idea of membership which was never a legal commitment and that we should offer a less privileged relationship, to be defined, offering advantages to both sides.

There are also reservations at grassroots level, although reliable opinion poll findings are scarce. These relate to what reports describe as “cultural differences”, an expression which clearly includes the religious dimension. The idea of European identity which is difficult to define also features in the background. While there is no great enthusiasm in political circles in Europe to work on identifying this identity, a good deal of it is to be assumed from the content of the constitutional treaty.

It is probably significant that scepticism about Turkish membership is strongest in countries such as Germany, France, the Netherlands, Austria, and Denmark which have large Turkish minorities and that it is increased by fears related to the country’s size, poverty rate and population. However, many of the organisations which report and discuss these reservations regarding this aspect of the argument favour an accession date being given. The positive arguments they cite are: good faith, that is, as I said, the fact that we have given our word; the prospects for economic and social improvements in Turkey over a long period of negotiations and preparation for membership; the experience of previous enlargements which has been positive; opposition to the idea of Europe as a Christian club; the moderate nature of Turkish religious observance about which we must all learn more and study; the secular nature of the Turkish state; Turkish acceptance of European values and its efforts over a long period to move towards Europe.

As regards arguments about Turkey’s large and growing population, economists point to the contribution young immigrants can make to the ageing problem in more advanced European countries. Germany already spends more than 10% of its gross domestic product on pensions, with the figure expected to rise to 15.5% by 2040. When the number of workers per retired person drops from 2.6 to 1.4, we may be glad to have young immigrants. On the other hand, the man on the street, as we have noted, may be more worried about what he regards as floods of immigrants and the cultural and other problems this may bring. Questions are also raised about a poor country such as Turkey having the same weight in European institutions as Germany, an issue which also requires study and discussion.

Economically, while Turkish GDP per capita is less than one third of the EU average, it is growing rapidly. The OECD recently cited three problems in this regard, namely, the question of political and economic stability, corruption and the size of the black economy. The Turkish Prime Minister has responded by stating the government is extremely stable and cites in support of this contention that the country has received investment valued at €20 billion in the past six months; that inflation has fallen from 34% to under 10% in two years; that GDP is expected to grow by 10% this year - I saw a figure of 13% quoted recently in the The Economist; and that new laws have been adopted to deal with corruption and the black market. Much progress is related to the prospect of movement towards membership of the European Union.

The role of the military has been one of the major factors contributing to the view that Turkey has not been fully democratic. The military’s role has traditionally been viewed as one of acting as the guardian of the ideology of Ataturk, for example, the principle of the unitary state - vis-à-vis the Kurds, for instance - and the state’s secular nature. The military has been widely respected by the people at large as a stabilising and incorrupt element. In the recent past it has intervened to assume control. Its powers have been reduced by recent reforms, for example, with respect to control of the national security council and parliamentary control of the military budget. Nevertheless, human rights organisations point out that it still intervenes in public affairs in ways which would not be tolerated in a western democracy, for instance, on education, the place of religion in society and more obvious issues such as separatism, that is, the position of the Kurdish minority.

A great deal of material is available on human rights in general, most recently in the conclusions of the European Commission’s annual report. In previous reports, while Turkey was considered to have the basic features of a democratic society, it was found to display serious shortcomings in terms of human rights and the protection of minorities. More recently, in 2002 and this year, two major constitutional reforms were introduced and eight legislative packages adopted by parliament. Major steps have been taken to achieve better implementation of the reforms which, as noted, include greater cultural, language and educational autonomy for minorities - again, in this case, the Kurds - the abolition of the death penalty, judicial reforms, the release of political prisoners, measures against torture in police stations and greater freedom of expression. However, it is accepted by everybody, including the Turkish Government, that the reforms have not gone far enough and that implementation is inadequate.

As one human rights observer put it, the philosophy of further necessary legislative reforms must be to move away from laws, primary objective is of which to control and restrict the exercise of fundamental freedoms, to a position in which human rights are seen as desirable, normal and necessary. This observer, like others, finds that practical implementation is the main problem. He notes that every day there are cases which demonstrate that the police, prosecutors, judges and other public servants either do not understand or are not willing to comply with the legislative reforms and human rights standards accepted by the government. In spite of such criticism, human rights activists are among the strongest supporters of movement towards Turkish accession. A particular human rights activist says the prospect of Turkish membership of the European Union presents the best opportunity Turkey has ever had of becoming a real democracy with full respect for human rights and the rule of law based on European values.

Another of the arguments tossed about by those both for and against Turkish membership concerns regional conflicts. Among the aims European integration is designed to achieve is the mending of fences between old enemies. We have seen the effect of the prospect of EU membership on relations between Turkey and Greece on the issue of Cyprus. The Ahtaari commission - I am sure the committee has received copies of the recent report - points to the great emphasis being placed on the southern borders of the European Union in the context of security and the need to ensure stability in the areas involved. According to the commission, Turkey would add a new dimension to the Union’s foreign policy efforts in vital regions such as the Middle East, the Mediterranean, central Asia and the Caucasus and have important practical effects on energy supply. There is a counter argument - why we want to bother to get involved in these areas and perhaps create a great deal of trouble for ourselves. The commission refutes this argument on the grounds that it would be better to have Turkey within the European camp than outside.

The commission’s conclusions and recommendations are fully summarised in my preliminary note. While they are generally positive, there are important qualifications and conditions. While the commission accepts that substantial progress has been made in constitutional and legislative reform, it contends further action is necessary. According to it, while Turkey has not completely met the political criteria, it has done so to a sufficient extent to allow the European Union to open negotiations. The condition was added that the opening of negotiations should require the bringing into force by Turkey of outstanding legislation listed in paragraph 1 of the commission’s report which also makes clear that the irreversibility of the reform process must be confirmed over time.

The commission outlines a three pillar strategy in which co-operation is offered to support reform while indicating progress should be monitored and negotiations suspended where there is evidence of back sliding. The concerns of some member states are addressed through the reminder that unanimity will apply at all stages of the negotiations. Any member state can stop the process. There will also be close monitoring of movement towards the adoption of acquis communautaire and the implementation of legislation. It is made clear that the outcome of negotiations is uncertain and long transitional arrangements and permanent safeguards can be put in place, although these are unusual. The reference relates to the free movement of persons. The report recommends that the financial perspective for the period from 2014 should be defined before negotiations are concluded. This is a clear pointer to a negotiating period of ten to 15 years. I count four references in the report to the condition to which I referred that Turkey’s accession will depend on the capacity of the European Union to absorb a new member.

Between now and 17 December further action is expected on the part of Turkey on specific legislative reforms as listed in paragraph 1. It is also expected to make a move on the recognition of Cyprus. Failure in this regard might understandably lead to difficulties. Governments will make up their minds on the commission’s recommendations and in the event of a positive decision which most observers regard as probable though not certain will have to decide what is meant by the “opening of negotiations without delay” as outlined in their original decision.

Deputy Andrews: I thank Mr. O’Rourke for his interesting, fair-minded and dispassionate analysis. I also thank Deputy Haughey for raising this timely issue, given the recent Commission decision and the forthcoming meeting of the European Council.

I am in favour of the opening of Turkish accession negotiations. Once one is a democrat it does not matter what one’s religion is. Being Islamic does not preclude a person from gaining full citizenship of the European Union. Many of the major member states already have significant Muslim populations with Germany, France and Britain coming to mind. Nobody is suggesting that the Islamic citizens of these states are somehow lesser EU citizens than the Christians or those who belong to no religion. The cultural gap between Turkey with its almost 100% Muslim population and the rest of Europe does not constitute a valid argument against negotiating accession.

To turn to the Cyprus question, when Ireland became a member state in 1973, it had a real and significant dispute with the United Kingdom. There were serious human rights abuses on both sides, especially on the part of the British. Naturally, the dispute did not prevent either country from becoming a member state, from which time the European Union has had a very positive effect on the problem. We are at the negotiating table and the British and Irish Governments have often met for bilateral meetings on the margins of wider EU discussions. There are enough sensible people on either side of the dispute between Turkey and Cyprus who would be brought together by membership of the European Union and provide a dynamic to resolve the issue more quickly than would otherwise be the case.

The attitude to Turkey generally is patronising. Turkey has been a member of NATO since its establishment and entrusted with the military protection of western Europe for a long time. It is ironic that so many member states and individuals argue that Turkey is too politically immature to be involved in the institutions of the European Union when the country is considered mature enough to carry weapons and everything else that goes with NATO membership. Since 11 September 2001 Europe’s relations with the Middle East and the Islamic world in general have required serious doctoring. Among the best ways to proceed is to accept Turkey’s membership application on its merits as that of a democratic and secular state. The Turkish people are democrats first and foremost. They are also Muslims. If we open negotiations with Turkey, we will go a long way towards improving relations.

Ignorance and prejudice are sometimes displayed when people express their fears about Turkey joining the European Union. We should not forget that many were concerned about East Germany joining the Union when the reunification of Germany took place in 1990. It was claimed that immigrants would pour into the rest of the Union. Popular hostility to immigrants has been a constant theme during every enlargement of the Union, but such fears have never been demonstrated to have been reasonable.

Mr. O’Rourke referred to outstanding legislation. It is important that people should remember that outstanding legislation cannot be considered when assessing whether an applicant country meets the criteria for membership. Only the legislation in force can be considered during that process. As Mr. O’Rourke said, a large body of outstanding legislation which may be said to be in the wings is not in force at this stage but soon will be. While Turkey’s application has been considered in its entirety, a new wave of legislation has yet to be introduced. It will come closer to fulfilling the criteria when it has been enacted.

Chairman: Does Mr. O’Rourke agree with Deputy Andrews that the attitude to Turkey has been patronising?

Mr. O’Rourke: He may have a point. Irish people are inclined to consider the European Union and NATO separately. We have not discussed the NATO role of Turkey which was the southern bastion of Europe during the Cold War and which played a huge role in that regard.

I was asked whether Turkey was democratic. I do not know whether there is a clear line between the role of Turkey which I have mentioned and what we regard as democratic values. The Turkish elite is certainly acceptable in the European debate, but that does not detract from the need for the gaps in the Turkish system to be filled before Europe is satisfied that Turkey accepts all European values.

Deputy Allen: I thank Mr. O’Rourke for his timely contribution. As a new member of the committee, this issue could have a divisive effect on the European Union in the next ten years. I am approaching the matter with a clean slate - I am prepared to listen, learn and consider the views of those on both sides of the debate. Mr. O’Rourke has outlined the arguments for and against Turkey’s accession to the European Union in a fair manner which will provoke some thought among members of the committee.

I have serious doubts and concerns about the European Union’s capacity to absorb further members until the countries which joined during the recent accession have been bedded down. Deputy Andrews spoke about the reunification of Germany which had a hugely disruptive effect on the German economy. We are waiting to see how successfully the European Union will absorb the new member states and how it will develop with 25 member states. Turkey has applied to join the Union and it is inevitable that applications will be received from Ukraine and other countries in that region. I do not know whether the Union is moving too quickly.

What timescale does Mr. O’Rourke think would be appropriate from the opening of negotiations with Turkey, possibly next year, to full accession? I do not allow religion to enter the equation when I consider an issue. I do not agree that Turkey’s membership of NATO should compromise our attitude on this matter because it is outside the influence and control of Ireland.

After the United States had invaded Iraq, there were concerns Turkey would invade northern areas of Iraq to protects its interests there. I am concerned about this matter which I will raise with the Turkish authorities when I get an opportunity to do so. Some of my friends from that part of the world were terrified by the prospect of an invasion from Turkey and its implications for human rights. The major questions about Turkey’s respect for international borders have to be answered. Is Mr. O’Rourke satisfied it respects such borders? Does he consider there is potential for huge conflict in the region because of Turkey’s proximity to Iran? Question marks are being raised by the United States about Iran’s nuclear industry while Turkey is under the influence of the United States. It is possible there will be conflicts involving countries such as Syria. We do not know what will happen in Iraq in the years to come. Is there a danger the European Union will be sucked into a greater conflict after the accession process has been completed?

Mr. O’Rourke: I made it clear I am not in the business of proposing particular lines of action, but of trying to assemble the views on either side of the argument. I do not doubt there are considerable worries about the extent of the expansion of the European Union. President Chirac has suggested there should be referenda on each accession after that of Croatia. In other words, there would be a referendum on Turkey’s accession.

It is evident the Commission is trying to reassure member states by making it clear the opening of negotiations would not be an irreversible action. It has stressed a veto could be applied or that the negotiations could be suspended or stopped. The accession to the European Union of Turkey is not the inevitable outcome. The possibility of a long process of negotiation is also being offered as a counter-argument or source of solace. It should certainly be considered when assessing whether the Union is capable of absorbing another large member state.

We do not have much experience of the operation of a European Union of 25 member states because the most recent accession was completed just last May. The anecdotal evidence I have received from people working is Brussels is that it has worked remarkably well. No grave problems have arisen in respect of voting in the Council, for example. The Commission has problems, but that is another matter. We have yet to see how the enlarged Union will develop. We do not yet have any answers in that regard. One needs to see what the experience will be in the next five, ten or 15 years to see if we can do for Turkey what was done for other countries like Spain, Portugal, Greece and Ireland to allow it join, even though there might have been doubts about its capacity to function within the Union, and the changes which might be made to the Union. There are people in one school, who would very much regret enlargement to include Turkey as it would in their view dilute the Union. They make that point in answer, if one likes, to Britain’s support for enlargement to include Turkey. Their argument is that Britain wants to expand the Union as it wants to dilute the Union rather than see further integration. We can only look at these questions over time.

I see dangers and positive aspects to having borders with Georgia, Armenia, Syria, Iran and Iraq. Who can tell? I do not know what the answer is. If Turkey is assumed into the European Union and the area of stability, which the Union certainly represents, is extended to Turkey and its eastern and southern borders, it should be seen as positive. With Turkey as a fully democratic state fully recognising human rights more developed that in it now, however long that might take, Europe as a whole would be stronger. From this base of strength it could better develop its relations with the neighbouring countries with which we will need to develop relations in any event, thereby protecting our interests, and we have interests in these countries. I already mentioned energy, which is the most obvious interest.

The governments must decide what they mean by “without delay”. We do not know their decision on the date when negotiations will open. That matter is under discussion and we do not know what sorts of conditions will be applied to the negotiations.

Deputy Mulcahy: I congratulate Deputy Haughey on tabling the motion. As he said, this is an extremely important debate and it makes the committee all the more relevant to have such a debate before the decision is made in December. We have heard many arguments today and will no doubt hear more before the meeting has concluded. Before December I would like to get some more historical and cultural background on the links between Turkey and Europe. One thinks of the birth of early Greek and early Turkish and Persian civilisation interacting with Europe. One thinks of Augustus leaving Rome in, I believe, the fourth or fifth century and setting up in what was then Constantinople. One thinks of the Byzantine Empire, which lasted several hundred years in Constantinople.

Chairman: The Deputy surprises me. I had no idea he was such an antiquarian.

Deputy Mulcahy: It goes on and on. If the committee wishes me to deliver a lecture, I can make myself available. Interconnectivity between Istanbul, previously Constantinople, and Europe has existed for hundreds if not thousands of years, into which we should delve to some degree. Cultural matters are key to the relationship and feed into the first major question raised in the excellent presentation by Mr. O’Rourke - what is Europe? This is a legitimate question. Some countries appear to see Europe as western Europe, and the Iron Curtain reinforced that notion for decades. Others see Europe as the countries around the Mediterranean. Does this include other countries around the Mediterranean and not just those referred to?

We also have the issue of God. Regardless of which side of the argument one is on, it was extraordinarily interesting that during the debate on drafting the new EU Constitution, whether good or bad, it was decided not to insert a reference to God in the preamble. The reference is instead to a shared system of values in humanity, democracy etc. The EU has taken a decision that it is not a geographic location but a system of shared values. Therefore, the fundamental question is whether Europe and Turkey are capable of sharing a set of common values and I believe they are.

Considerable hypocrisy is spoken by some of those in France, Germany and others where the state subvents religion. England has its established official religion. As I understand it, Turkey has been a strictly secular state since 1928 or 1929. Religious schools are banned in Turkey. Its constitution clearly states it is not possible to mix the state and politics with religion. The Turkish Prime Minister, Mr. Erdogan, was either disqualified from sitting in parliament or may have been imprisoned because his party was deemed to have crossed the line between religion and politics. When his party won the last general election, Mr. Abdullah Gul became the Prime Minister and is now Foreign Minister because Mr. Erdogan had been disqualified by the Turkish Supreme Court.

An argument can be made that Turkey is a very good example of a secular state and better than many western democracies. There may be a question mark over the army, which seems to act in Turkey as the Supreme Court acts in Ireland. In contrast to Ireland where the Supreme Court enforces the Constitution, in Turkey the army seems to be the enforcer of the secular constitution, which cannot be allowed to continue.

When discussing equal partners, Deputy Andrews made an interesting point in asking whether we are condescending towards Turkey. I do not believe Turkey wants to join the EU for economic reasons but because it wants to share its identity with Europe. When President Bush offered some $19 billion to Turkey to have its army participate in the invasion of Iraq, its Parliament turned that down. That was a considerable amount of money to turn down at the stroke of a pen. I believe that belies the argument that Turkey’s interest in association is primarily economic.

Other members spoke of security. Turkey is an important member of NATO in that region. I question whether Turkey would be capable of divesting itself of that identity to some degree and become more of a mainstream European country in its thinking about security. It might suffer from a split personality in the security area. If Turkey joins the EU and shares its common set of values, it will need to divest itself to a certain extent of its NATO loyalty and think more in terms of loyalty to the European Union. These are valid arguments and certainly form an important part of the issue. In regard to Turkey’s wish to join, I think the Turks themselves would say it will help them to develop a democratic and secure state within the European Union. If Deputy Mulcahy had continued, he might have pointed out that Santa Claus was born in Turkey and, whatever about God, his mother lived in Ephesus.

Deputy Mulcahy: We have a church called St. Nicholas of Myra which represents that.

Senator Lydon: My views might differ slightly from those of my colleagues. In my view, it is not an argument about human rights, the military or economics. It is an argument about the definition of the continent of Europe and whether Turkey is part of Europe. Mr. O’Rourke stated that if Turkey were admitted, the EU might also have to admit Ukraine and Belarus and such places. If one looks at a map it shows that Ukraine and Belarus are in a line down from Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia. Bulgaria, Albania and Moldova are all part of Europe whereas I do not regard Russia as being so. The part of Turkey on this side of the Bosphorus is obviously in Russia. It must be decided whether the other part of Turkey is also in Europe. The Turks will argue that most of Turkey is closer to Europe than is Cyprus and this is true. If Turkey is admitted, what happens if Lebanon and Israel apply? I am not really afraid of admitting Turkey to the EU. Turkey will not be admitted until it achieves certain defined criteria and that is for Turkey to do, whether it takes one, two, ten years or 15 years. That is its business and it will do that as quickly as it can. We must consider and decide how large to allow the European Union to become, how many more countries we wish to include and whether those that have been accepted have been fully integrated.

On the question of fear of a Muslim state, as Deputy Mulcahy stated, Turkey is a secular state and has been since the time of Kemal Ataturk. I am not afraid of a Muslim state entering the European Union. The only difference between a Christian state and a Muslim state is that the Muslims practice their religion and the Christians do not. If that is a fear for Christian states, they have an answer. They can practise their religion.

Mr. Buttiglione is a man who expressed views which he said were part of the Catholic faith. I do not think any Catholic would decide that homosexuality was a sin. Some of his views might have a resonance with certain Muslims. If he were a Muslim I wonder what would happen to him.

There should not be a fear of Turkey because it is a fine country in itself which I have visited a number of times. The people are industrious and hard-working and we in the EU can incorporate them if we wish to do so. The argument I would like to hear discussed is what the geographic definition of Europe is and where it stops. How far east or west will it go? Will Greenland be admitted?

Chairman: I will take questions from Deputy Sexton and Senator McDowell at this point to speed up the process. Is that agreed, Senator Lydon?

Senator Lydon: Yes, please do.

Deputy Sexton: Time is an important factor. I will endeavour to condense what I had planned to say because other speakers have covered similar points to mine. I do not see limitations to the European Union. If the Union is trying to foster freedom and democracy throughout the world, then risks must be taken. While the risks are great, the benefits are even greater. The EU is regarded more as an economic entity but I regard it as an untested peace process which ensures all members are together on issues and find ways around problems if they are not in agreement.

The timeframe is important. Turkey was promised back in the 1960s that it could hope for accession to the European Union. If its application were rejected, that might be interpreted in today’s world as a rejection of any kind of integration of any country other than Christian. The EU has a role to play in breaking down the public fears and perceptions about Islam and whether it is compatible with a liberal democracy. I make that statement in the full knowledge that it is women and children who fare worst in countries such as Turkey. I concede that the country has made great strides but it is still to be tested. It must be monitored and assessed rigorously and regularly over a long period before people are comfortable with its accession.

Is there any likelihood of objections being raised in December to the beginning of the process? Mr. O’Rourke has stated that it seems likely there will be agreement by every country. Does he think some countries might have reservations? If Turkey does not wish to aspire to Europe as it is constituted, why has it moved in the direction of Europe?

Chairman: Is it agreed that we group Senator Lydon’s and Deputy Sexton’s questions?

Senator McDowell: I do not think anyone else is offering.

Chairman: Senator Quinn is offering.

Senator McDowell: I beg your pardon. My question will not take long. I wish to make a comment before I ask my question. It is inspired by what Deputy Andrews said about the issue of integration and immigration. It is unquestionably a fact that the Turkish populations in places such as Germany and Austria have not integrated. It can easily be argued that they have not been allowed or encouraged to integrate. It is certainly a fact that there are third generation Turkish immigrants in Germany who do not speak German or do not speak it very well. Either they do not wish to be integrated into German society or they have not been allowed, facilitated or encouraged to do so. In that respect, they have more in common with, for example, the north African population in France or the population which might have come from the Caribbean or Commonwealth countries to Britain than they do with other European immigrants. For example, there is no obvious French ghetto in Germany or German ghetto in Denmark.

My concern is about the capacity of the European Union to absorb Turkey. One argument consistently made is that if we do not enter into negotiations in a serious manner with a view to Turkish membership, this will inevitably undermine or bring to a halt the progress that has been made in terms of democratisation and human rights in Turkey and that it would destabilise the security of the region of the Caucasus or the Middle East. It would make it difficult for those who argue for reform and progress in Turkey to continue to do the job. There is an apocalyptic vision described that if the European Union says “No” to Turkey, everything will go into a difficult and negative tailspin in Turkey. I cannot form a view of that. Does the average Turk, as opposed to the political elite, feel so strongly about membership of the European Union that he feels the country will simply degenerate or that progress will be impossible on these issues if the rest of the Union decides it does not want to progress full membership for Turkey? If it were decided that Turkey would simply be offered some form or preferred partnership, would that seriously undermine those arguing for progress as we would define it?

Senator Quinn: I have been impressed at the ability of Turkey to embrace change since the collapse of the Ottoman Empire. Kemal Ataturk achieved sensational changes. In my opinion, Turkey will be able to embrace the changes required by the European Union. In the 1960s, President de Gaulle said “No” to Ireland and Britain joining the European Common Market. While the French and German Governments may be in favour of the accession of Turkey to the European Union, there have been suggestions that they feel obliged to hold a referendum. If that is so, the indications are that the peoples of France and Germany are unlikely to accept it. I am not sure how correct this is but it raises the same question asked by Senator McDowell. Is there a danger this will cause a delay or call a halt to human rights developments in Turkey?

Deputy Haughey: I thank Mr. O’Rourke for his fair and balanced presentation. It was exactly what we wanted and I am grateful to him for it. My motion was deliberately provocative because I sometimes feel we are talking to ourselves here. Senator McDowell referred to the “average Turk” versus the political elite. Sometimes we are like the political elite here and the average Irish man or woman is not listening to us. We need stimulating debates and must try to engage the public on various issues, especially where they concern the European Union.

Mr. O’Rourke mentioned the United Kingdom’s motives for wanting Turkey to join the European Union. It is also fair to say the United States is encouraging all concerned to allow Turkey join the Union. Why do the United Kingdom and the United States want Turkey to join?

Mr. O’Rourke: I will try to reply to all of the questions asked and will start from the end.

I do not want to attribute motives to Britain. However, the suspicion is that strongly supports Turkish accession because it wants to extend the European Union to dilute it. In other words, it wants to oppose the integrationists who talk about a federal Europe. Most accept that this idea is long gone. It is clear from the constitutional treaty that what we are talking about is a union of member states, not a federal Europe.

The United States has been keen on Turkish accession and went much too far in its lobbying in this regard. While I am not an expert, it has to do with the military geo-political attitude of the United States. I am not being critical in saying this. Turkey has always been a valuable ally of the United States, although the United States did not succeed in getting it to do its will in the case of Iraq.

There has never been a referendum on the accession of any member state. If there had been, perhaps Ireland and other member states would not be members. I have said the feeling on President Chirac’s idea of a referendum which purely has to do with internal politics is that it is not regarded as a good one. Imagine what would happen if the negotiations were successfully concluded in 15 years time and the French people decided they were against it in a referendum. The result would be serious.

Turkey has shown great ability to embrace change, not least in the past two or three years when the changes have been substantial. It has also accepted that further change and proper implementation are required before it can join the European Union.

The question was asked as to what would happen if we said no and the process stopped. The Turkish Prime Minister recently said that if this happened, the Copenhagen criteria would become the Ankara criteria and that Turkey would continue to make the necessary changes for it to develop the way the Turkish Government wanted it to develop. That is an important indication of Turkish willingness to move towards the European system of values and democracy.

We should be practical in regard to whether Turkey is a European country. This is most unlikely to be an issue for any of the governments which accept the point has been conceded. They have repeatedly made statements in the past 40 years, in particular in the past ten, in which they make it clear they accept Turkey is eligible in that respect. On the other hand, we refused Morocco which clearly is not a European country. That is one limit. We will not move south of the Mediterranean to Africa.

Another practical point is that if we were to expand membership to non-European countries, we would have to seek to change the constitution. Successive treaties and the draft constitution clearly state only European countries are eligible. It is most unlikely an effort to change this would succeed.

There is the question of the identity of the European Union and whether it can expand indefinitely. We must consider what will happen, whether the Union can maintain cohesion and whether indefinite expansion, beyond Turkey to the Ukraine, would lead to divisions within it. Would it lead to new formations or new core units which are discussed frequently? Some fear this would be damaging and disastrous for the cohesion of the Union. There is, therefore, great hesitancy about further expansion. My personal view is that it is most unlikely we will face further expansion in the next couple of decades.

On whether there is any likelihood of objections in December, this has not been excluded. Certain things must happen before then. Some member states are opposed. Austria is most opposed to Turkish membership in terms of public and party opinion but there is no expectation the Austrian Government will impose a veto. However, something must and is expected to happen in regard to Cyprus. The Turkish Government is expected to produce a form of words or changes which will mitigate sufficiently the difficulties in this area to allow Cyprus to go along with what will be proposed by the Presidency. This is the major item on the agenda of the Dutch Presidency which is anxious to achieve success. It is a difficult issue. The Dutch do not regard it as a walkover and there is work to be done.

Chairman: We will finish as we have run over time. I thank Mr. O’Rourke for his very informative presentation. I am sure members share that view.

Transcript of the Joint Committee on European Affairs Meeting with Mr. Ahmet Berki Dibek, Turkish Ambassador, 10 November 2004

Chairman: I thank Mr. Ahmet Berki Dibek, the Turkish ambassador, for attending. All the members understand that the purpose of this meeting is to have an exchange of views with the ambassador. The procedure is very simple. I will ask the ambassador to make a presentation, which will be followed by questions by the members of the committee.

Mr. Ahmet Berki Dibek: It is a pleasure for me to have this opportunity to address the committee, although members of the committee will be travelling to Turkey where they will note our recent developments.

I intend to share with the committee some reflections on one of the foremost priorities of Turkey, namely, our membership of the European Union. However, before trying to do so, perhaps it would be helpful if I touched upon the present state of the Turkish society and economy. As one knows, Ataturk, the founder of the Turkish Republic, was determined to create a modern, forward-looking country. His achievements were innumerable and the great changes he initiated cannot be condensed into a single speech. The great historian, Arnold Toynbee, assessed Ataturk’s accomplishments as follows: “It was as if, in our western world, the Renaissance, the Reformation and the Secularist Revolution at the end of the seventeenth century, the French Revolution and the Industrial Revolution had all been telescoped into a single lifetime and made compulsory by law.”

Today, Turkey is a secular state. Democracy is deeply rooted in Turkish society. With the Turkish experience, one of the familiar clichés asserted by political scientists that democracy cannot take root in non-Judeo-Christian cultures became an indefensible generalisation. The Turkish experience in building a modern, secular and effective democracy is very pertinent today.

We do not claim to have a perfect system - no country could do so - but we rightly regard ourselves as a pioneering country in the Islamic world. Equally, we have been stressing our European vocation acquired in the course of many centuries of intensive and continuous interaction with Europe. As one of the 20 largest economies of the world, Turkey has a GNP of around $300 billion and a trade volume of approximately $150 billion. The Turkish economy is most vibrant and capable of sustaining high growth rates. Turkey has a young, well-educated and well-motivated population.

Turkey has a large market serving a nation of 67 million in a country 11 times the size of Ireland. Turkish enterprise is reaching out and our private sector has established a strong presence far beyond our boundaries. Turkish businessmen are building world-class factories, shopping centres, airports, harbours and housing in many corners of the world.

Turkey is one of the seven countries in the world that are self-sufficient in food. With further irrigation, upon the completion of the south-eastern Anatolia project, Turkey is destined to become a major food supplier. Let me touch upon this project briefly. It is a €40 billion public project involving many dams and hydroelectric power plants to harness the potential of the upper reaches of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers and to irrigate the fertile plains that lie between them. The heart of the project, the Ataturk Dam, is the sixth largest rock filled dam in the world and was completed in 1992. Last year, it accounted for approximately 20% of Turkey’s electricity production. The entire project sets out to add 1.7 million hectares to the irrigated area of Turkey, an area equivalent to more than the half the size of Belgium. Turkey is also poised to serve as a major energy distribution centre in this century due to its proximity to the richest oil and gas deposits of the world. In that regard, the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan crude oil and natural gas pipelines are under construction.

Turkey has shown a close interest in the European integration process from the very beginning. While relations can be traced to earlier years, the conclusion in 1963 of the association agreement in Ankara is generally taken as the point of departure. Turkey applied to the EU for membership in 1987. The Council endorsed the avis on Turkey in 1990. In line with the avis, lengthy negotiations were conducted and the customs union between EU and Turkey came into being in 1996. Thus, Turkey became the first, and so far the only, non-member country to enter into a customs union with the EU and it was materialised without any substantial transfer of funds from the EU.

The reaffirmation of Turkey’s candidature for accession at the Helsinki European Council in December 1999 ushered in a new era in the relations between Turkey and the EU. Helsinki was, in a way, proof of Turkish society’s European vocation and vindication of its constant quest over the past centuries for modernity and progress. However, Helsinki was also good news for the EU. By embracing Turkey, with its unique cultural characteristics, the EU member states were in fact expressing their readiness to proceed for integration at a truly universal level. In other words, post-Helsinki, the EU became philosophically more complete and with a firmer claim for leadership in international affairs.

At the Copenhagen European Council of December 2002, the EU took decisions of historic significance concerning its next enlargement. As regards Turkey, it has determined: “If the European Council in December 2004, on the basis of a report and a recommendation from the Commission, decides that Turkey fulfils the Copenhagen political criteria, the European Union will open accession negotiations with Turkey without delay.” Hence Turkey has passed through a dramatic transformation process and has taken a number of important steps to meet the Copenhagen criteria.

The most important among these is the major review of the constitution. Some 34 articles of the Turkish constitution have been amended. These amendments covers a wide range of issues such as improving human rights, strengthening the rule of law and restructuring of democratic institutions. This was only the initial step of the reform process which was soon followed by complementary legislative and administrative measures to ensure their implementation. The Turkish Parliament also adopted new civil and penal codes and introduced improvements to the freedom of association and the right to assembly, as well as gender equality and child protection. The scope of freedom of thought and expression is further extended.

On October 6 2004, the EU Commission published its reports, whereby the success of the reforms undertaken by Turkey has been recognised and acknowledged. The EU Commission has determined that Turkey has sufficiently met the Copenhagen criteria and made a clear recommendation to the member states to open accession negotiations with Turkey. We consider the Commission’s recommendation as an historic step. We also hope that the member states, in line with their decisions previously taken, put into effect without delay the Commission’s recommendation to open negotiations on 17 December 2004. We are expecting an impartial and even-handed decision. No discrimination should be made against Turkey in its negotiating process. The negotiations have one objective - to prepare the accession agreement. The only issue to be negotiated between Turkey and the EU is full membership. We do not have a plan B in this process.

Our people are demanding more prosperity and insisting on efficiency, transparency and accountability in the governance of their country. They want to see Turkish democracy firmly safeguarded, the rule of law fully assured and its secularism protected. They want to live in a more peaceful and prosperous setting, based on tolerance, understanding and respect. In a nutshell, membership will serve to their interests and there is no doubt that they will be strong advocates of the ideals and the principles of the European Union.

We have been debating ways and means of making our democracy work better and further raising our standards in every field. The Turkish people, motivated by prospective membership of the EU, are becoming more and more demanding and assertive in initiating change and progress. This is the hallmark of a healthy society and we owe the EU for these positive developments. We believe that EU membership will unlock Turkey’s huge potential in every field. As one would expect, the European Union will also draw a whole range of benefits from Turkey’s membership in the interconnected areas of foreign policy, security, economy and culture.

Turkey, as the closest member state to the Middle East, Balkans and Caucasus will, with her geographical location and historical links, provide a bridge, through which the EU will be able to exert its influence in these regions. In order for the EU to be a prominent actor in these regions and assist in achieving stability, it needs Turkey. Moreover, the principal elements of our foreign policy towards these regions have traditionally converged with those of the Union. Turkey’s common ties with the central Asian republics such as religion, language and culture will constitute important tools for the EU to enlarge its scope of influence within this region. It would not be an overstatement to say that Turkey’s membership of the EU will perform a critical role in protecting the Union’s strategic interests regarding energy resources.

Turkey has the second largest army in NATO after the United States. Turkey’s defence and security posture are springs of benefits which will be open to the EU and boost the Union’s effectiveness in the international sphere. Today, as the world is shaken by the resurgence of ultra-nationalism and religious fundamentalism, our membership becomes ever more important. The EU and Turkey have a common interest in preserving peace and stability in the areas adjacent to Turkey.

Turkey’s historical experience, cultural wealth and contemporary characteristics are unique. When Turkey takes its place among the EU members, the Union will be transformed into a truly multi-cultural and multi-religious geography. The Union will be more capable of promoting understanding and harmony among cultures and will avoid the reappearance of deeply-rooted racial and religious prejudices. Turkey’s membership will certainly enrich European identity and vice versa.

We should not forget that cultures in their diversity complement and enrich one another. We should also not forget that we have a responsibility to embrace and value our diversities and to promote and uphold the universal values we share. Turkey believes in the attainability of this objective. Turkish society itself is a living testimony to the proposition that Islam, democracy and modernity are compatible. Our secular society is one in which civilisations do not clash, but where they embrace.

I would like to underline once again that Turkey wants and has chosen to become a member of the EU and has the will and the capacity to do so. I thank the committee for its attention.

Senator Quinn: I welcome the ambassador to the committee and thank him for coming before us. He clearly articulated his enthusiasm and that of Turkey for joining the European Union. An ageing Europe will benefit from and be enriched by a young Turkey in the years ahead. The ambassador referred to the impartial and open-minded discussions that he hopes will take place next month and I am confident that will be the case.

I have listened carefully in recent weeks to the views and concerns expressed about Turkish involvement in the EU. Women are concerned about the Turkish tradition of female illiteracy, crimes of honour and forced marriages. Europe left such things behind generations ago. A further concern is the link between Islam and Government. Under Ataturk, a republic was created and the state and religion were separated but a number of Islamic institutions remain under state control. That is not unusual in Europe - it happens in Britain - but concern has been voiced on it.

Mr. Berki Dibek: Turkish women benefited most from the modernisation process in Turkey. Female emancipation is one of Ataturk’s most brilliant humanitarian victories. Political equality in terms of the right to vote and eligibility to run for election was accepted in 1930, earlier than in many other countries. Gender equality is guaranteed under the law and women hold 30% of professional positions in the workforce, a percentage that is on a par with many western countries. The urban labour force participation rate of university educated women is 78% and 14% of all women in the workforce have college degrees. Around 42% of all university students are women, indicating that the number of women in professional occupations will further increase, and women make up 34% of university professors, on a par with the United States.

Female NGOs played an important role in the preparation of the new civil and penal codes. Heavier penalties have been enacted for crimes of honour. Forced marriages still exist in Turkish society but there is a lower percentage than in other Islamic societies. It is a rural custom that rarely happens in cities.

We have a secular system of government and Islam has no say in it. Religion is internalised in individuals. Islamic, Christian and Jewish schools are not permitted in Turkey.

Deputy Quinn: I admire the ambassador’s courage and self-confidence when he comes here without assistance. It is impressive. Regrettably, I will not be able to go to Turkey on this occasion but I have been there before.

There is a view that I share, however, that the opponents of the European Union - the United States and some eurosceptics - want to see a broad union that will not be able to act cohesively. The Economist is a fervent advocate of Turkish membership because it believes the European Union should not aspire to be anything more than a large free trade area. What type of European Union does Turkey want to join - a loose trade federation or a coherent, integrated world player that will not be a super-state but which could be a super-influence?

Mr. Berki Dibek: We actively participated in the discussions at the Convention on the European constitutional treaty and we welcome the successful result. In the Convention, we voiced our opinions, saying that we support a strong and integrated EU. We support the qualified majority voting system. On the composition and size of the Commission, functionality and equality among members are important and we supported the compromise reached. We support a strong EU.

The US is entitled to its own views but there is another perspective. The US has a global perception of a dialogue between Islamic and western countries. It supports Turkey’s secular system and thinks that Turkey is proof that Islam and democracy are compatible. America, therefore, supports Turkey’s application for membership of the European Union. A Turkey that is strongly anchored to the west benefits the entire world. I do not want to comment on the future shape of the EU.

Deputy Allen: I welcome the ambassador. He referred to the expansion of Turkey’s economic base. I have seen it at first hand in Cork city where one of Turkey’s major construction companies completed part of the city ring road 12 months ahead of schedule.

There is much apprehension concerning Turkey’s application for membership of the EU. It is felt that the EU is expanding too rapidly and would not be able to accommodate the shock to the system that would result from Turkish accession. The Kurds in northern Iraq are concerned that Turkey may not have respect for international borders. Following the US invasion, they feared a Turkish invasion of the Kurdish region in northern Iraq. I would also be concerned if there is a lack of respect for international borders on Turkey’s part. Will the ambassador gives his views concerning the Kurds in Turkish territory and northern Iraq?

Turkey has the second largest army in NATO. Will the ambassador give more detail on the link between the army and the civil administration? Has there been an erosion of the military’s role in the broadcasting authority, education boards and other public bodies?

The anticipated accession talks with the EU will take place at intergovernmental level. How will Turkey approach these talks considering its refusal to recognise Cyprus? Turkey also indicated an erosion of those penal codes and other laws seen as anti-democratic, such as the code on criminal procedure and legislation dealing with judicial police. How is Turkey dealing with these issues that are a precondition to accession talks?

Mr. Berki Dibek: Developments in Iraq are a serious concern for Turkey. We have no hidden agenda towards Iraq. We want a democratic and prosperous Iraq as our neighbour and to preserve its political unity and territorial integrity. Our approach towards Iraq is shaped by a policy embracing all Iraqis. We make no distinction between Iraq’s ethnic groups. It is our sincere wish that the Iraqi Interim Government should overcome the difficulties facing it. There is no hidden agenda regarding the position of the Kurds in northern Iraq. We want them to be part of the democratic Iraq and participate effectively in its democratic institutions. The future of Kirkuk is a sensitive issue in that regard. If there are designs to ascribe Kirkuk to a specific ethnic group, it could cause some problems for the Iraqis. Our kinsmen, the Turkomans, constitute the third largest group in Iraq. We believe that they can make a positive contribution to Iraq’s future.

The Turkish military has played an important role in the modernisation process of the State which no one can underestimate. Our modernisation process began in the 19th century, led by the civil bureaucracy. The Turkish military strongly supports Turkey’s EU accession process. With the recent reforms, civil and military relations have been brought in line with European standards as confirmed by the report of the Commission. The Turkish military did not resist but provided its positive contribution to these reforms. There is a new civilian general secretary of the Turkish national security council. All military funds are taken under the umbrella of the budget. The military accounts are open to the Turkish High Court of Audits.

The issue of Cyprus is a long lingering problem. It began in 1963 and since 1964 the UN peacekeeping force, UNFICYP, has been stationed there. It should be kept in mind that Cyprus is the common home of the Turkish Cypriots and Greek Cypriots alike who should share and have an equal say over the island’s destiny. The parameters of resolution on Cyprus came into existence as a result of four decades of UN-sponsored negotiations. The Annan plan was the result of these negotiations between the parties in Cyprus. It offered carefully balanced and workable solutions to the issues. The Turkish Cypriots negotiated the plan and displayed their good will to engage in a give-and-take process to reach a lasting settlement.

Turkish Cypriots heeded the calls of the international community and approved the Annan plan in a referendum on 24 April 2004, despite the many sacrifices entailed. However, the Greek Cypriots opted for no settlement and are not ready to share a common future on the basis of partnership and equality with Turkish Cypriots. After the referendum, the Turkish Cypriots were praised but the situation there has been fundamentally altered. It necessitates a new approach to the solution of the Cyprus issue. Yet the UN Secretary General’s report, calling on the international community to eliminate restrictions and barriers isolating the Turkish Cypriots, was not endorsed by the Security Council. Despite the EU Commission’s and EU Council’s strongly worded statements, nothing concrete has happened for the Turkish Cypriots. There were so many promises but the world has failed to reach out to the Turkish Cypriots. They are still out there waiting in the cold. They are very disappointed. The coalition government which supported the negotiations and convinced the people to vote “Yes” in the referendum has lost its political support and now there is a political crisis in Cyprus.

Cyprus does not form part of the Copenhagen criteria. In 1999 we received a letter from the president of the Council, Mr. Lipponen, accompanying the Helsinki decision and pointing out that Cyprus would not constitute a criterion for Turkey. Recently Commissioner Verheugen also stated that recognition of the Cypriot republic is not a prerequisite for Turkey to start accession negotiations. The Commission’s recommendation contained six laws and the parliament has already enacted two of them. It will enact the remaining four before 17 December.

Deputy Ó Snodaigh: Is one of those laws article 305 of the penal code, which specifies anti-national activities? The explanatory memorandum cited only two examples of this: demands for recognition of the Armenian genocide and support for the withdrawal of Turkish troops from Cyprus, which is punishable by ten years in prison, or 15 for publishers and journalists. Is that one of the laws to be amended or repealed by 17 December? Will Turkey officially recognise all existing EU states, by opening diplomatic relations with them and access to ports and airspace? I refer in particular to the Republic of Cyprus.

What steps are being taken to recognise the Kurdish people as a national minority making up between 25% and 30% of the population of Turkey and, for instance, to recognise their language officially? Are steps being taken to give official recognition to political parties representing the Kurds? I welcome the fact that Turkey is proceeding to become an EU member albeit it is premature and negotiations should not be opened until the Copenhagen criteria are met and the occupation of Cyprus is ended. Mr. Dibek’s response on this point misrepresented the position on what has happened and is happening there.

Mr. Berki Dibek: The Turkish press claims this is the reasoning behind the articles and the Turkish penal code but I have seen nothing official on that so I cannot respond to that question. It may be unofficially debated but there has been no official statement on this. The Deputy said the Kurdish minority was 25% or 30% of the Turkish population. This is a slight exaggeration. No estimation of the Kurdish population has exceeded 20%. Less than 20% of the Kurdish population lives in Turkey.

Meeting the Copenhagen criteria fully is a dynamic process. No country will be able to meet them. It is a prerequisite to meet the political criteria sufficiently before the accession talks start and the Commission advised the Council that Turkey has sufficiently met the criteria and the accession talks can start. The negotiation process will prepare Turkey for full membership and we will focus on the imperfections of our democracy and further upgrade our implementation record and our democratic institutions.

With regard to serving Greek Cypriot ships, our customs union does not cover the services sector but we have already extended it to the new member states of the European Union.

Senator Lydon: The ambassador mentioned extending the customs union to ten new member states, including Cyprus I suppose. Vessels flying Cypriot flags are forbidden to dock in certain ports in Turkey and Cypriot flights are forbidden to fly over Turkish territory, even though Turkish flights frequently fly over Cypriot territory. The occupation - although the ambassador may not call it that - of part of Cyprus took place after the coup when Turkey planned to reinstate the constitution. That was done but the Turks are still there with 35,000 troops, a phenomenal number of troops on such a small island.

The Turkish policy is akin to the Israeli policy for the Palestinians, namely bringing in Turkish settlers to occupy lands owned by Greek Cypriots. If there is any settlement there will be a very difficult outcome. Deputy Ó Snodaigh mentioned the role of article 305 about which I have read a little in The Irish Times, to the effect that the Turkish justice commission provided two examples. I do not know what that commission is, or whether it is a Turkish organisation.

In 1987 the European Parliament recognised the killing of 1.5 million Armenians and in 2001 the French National Assembly voted for a law recognising the Armenian genocide. Mr Erdogan said when he was in Paris that historians would deal with this and there was no need to emphasise it. Perhaps there is not at this stage, unless one is Armenian.

Is there any possibility of Turkey entering the European Union without resolving the Cyprus problem? It will probably have to withdraw from that before the accession occurs - perhaps not. I am simply putting these questions.

Mr. Berki Dibek: The Annan plan provided the Greek Cypriots with opportunities to minimise the Turkish military presence to a symbolic number, if it was accepted at the referendum. The number of the so-called settlers to whom the Senator refers would be reduced to an agreed level which was to the best of my recollection 45,000. A serious percentage of land would have been returned to the Greek Cypriots and a considerable amount of property restored to them. The United Cyprus Republic would have been formed and spoken with one voice in international fora and have participated fully in the EU decision-making process, but unfortunately it was rejected by the Greek Cypriots. Cyprus would have spoken with one voice in international fora and would have participated fully in the EU decision-making process, but unfortunately it was rejected by the Greek Cypriots.

The word “occupation” was used. Turkey is not accused in any UN Security Council Resolution of occupying Cyprus. We are there according to the rights given to us by the international agreements. The plan was rejected and we had to consider how to deal with that. We must approach the issue with a mindset of peaceful co-habitation.

As the Deputy said, I have no idea about the reasoning behind the judicial commission of the Turkish grand national assembly under the third and fifth Articles of the Turkish penal code. I have been reading about this in the press but have seen nothing official on that matter.

Regarding Armenia, there are two key documents. One is the declaration of independence of Armenia and the other is the constitution of Armenia. In the declaration of independence, Armenia referred to Turkey’s eastern Anatolian regions as western Armenia. In the constitution of Armenia, Mount Ararat, which we call Mount Are and is situated in Turkey, is described as a part of the coat of arms of Armenia. Armenia does not recognise the common border between Turkey and Armenia as established by the Kars and Gumru treaties of 1921.

The Armenians accuse us of having committed a so-called genocide. The figures differ from one source to another but we have proposed the establishment of a joint commission of historians to open up the Turkish archives and the Armenian archives in Yerevan and Boston, with research to be carried out. That was refused. We believe that history should be researched by historians but a joint commission of historians has been turned down by the Armenians. Armenia also occupies 20% of the Azerbaijani territory despite the codes of the UN Security Council.

We are trying to deal with this issue in an open-minded manner. For instance, Turkey as a founding state of the Black Sea economic co-operation organisation has invited Armenia to join. Turkey was the original proponent of the idea in the 1980s. Our foreign minister consults with his counterparts in Armenia and Azerbaijan from time to time. The three of them meet and discuss issues in the margins of the international meetings and conferences.

According to some figures, there are now some 40,000 Armenians illegally working in Turkey. Chartered flights continue on what is known as the H50 air corridor between Istanbul and Armenia. Armenian and Turkish Jews also meet, with Armenians participating in the festivals in the eastern provinces of Turkey. Last month, the Armenian state choir and the philharmonic orchestra of Armenia were in Istanbul where they performed for Turkish audiences. It is a complicated issue.

Deputy Haughey: I thank the ambassador for attending, for answering our questions as best he can and for the positive way in which he has addressed us this afternoon.

Regarding the issue of Cyprus raised by Deputy Ó Snodaigh and Senator Lydon, no doubt the big threat from the Turkish point of view is that Cyprus is an EU member state and can veto Turkey’s membership, or could veto the decision to commence negotiations. One thing we have learned from the Irish peace process is that there are two sides to every story and no percentage in getting into the blame game. The Annan plan is dead. It was democratically rejected by the Greek Cypriots so it is a question of where to go from there.

Senator Lydon asked a number of questions regarding Cyprus. I will ask others. Will Turkey cease to veto Cyprus’s accession to a number of regional and international organisations? That is an important issue for Turkey to address. Regarding free movement of labour, no doubt some people are concerned that there could be mass emigration to the other EU member states in due course. Would Turkey be disappointed if there were restrictions on the free movement of labour if and when Turkey accedes to the European Union? I know there are precedents for that.

The ambassador said that Turkey is a secular state and a democracy. In my view there are moderate and fundamentalist Muslims. There is concern in the west at the rise of Islamic fundamentalism. Is that an issue in Turkey and, if so, is the country concerned with it? How does it deal with it?

Mr. Berki Dibek: Regarding the veto of Cyprus’s membership, I will read from the text I have with me regarding Turkey’s political and legal position.

We thought that the unilateral accession of the Greek Cypriot side to the EU contravened the 1959 agreements and 1960 treaties on Cyprus because these instruments contain provisions precluding membership of Cyprus in international political and economic unions to which Turkey and Greece do not both belong. These treaties placed a special responsibility on Turkey along with Greece and the United Kingdom to prevent such an eventuality. According therefore to the legal texts and the international treaties, Cyprus could not become a member of organisations to which Turkey and Greece do not belong. That is the main point I can make in this area.

Regarding free circulation of labour, Turkey will not create a big problem for the EU. Foreign direct investment in Turkey is currently exceptionally low, and many independent research institutes have suggested that if we start accession negotiations, this will have a very positive effect on the Turkish economy, which will mean less unemployment and less emigration to the European countries. As we saw from the last enlargement, almost all of the 15 EU members decided to bring some kind of transition periods to the newcomers regarding free movement of labour. It would, therefore, be possible to apply such a transitional period to Turkey, which could be agreed during the accession negotiations. There is no need to over-emphasise Turkey’s population in that regard. Some say that the young population will be a solution to the ageing population of the European Union in the long run. It is not right to express fear.

When it comes to the fear of Islam, are Europeans afraid of Turkey, or will it be a handicap for Turkey when it comes to joining the European Union? I would like to quote the European Parliament on that issue.

No one has a monopoly on these universal values of democracy, rule of law, human and minority rights, and freedoms of religion and conscience - values which can perfectly well be accepted and defended by a country where the majority is Muslim. The European Parliament believes, therefore, there are no objections in principle to Turkey’s European Union membership.

Islam belongs to the family of Abrahamic faiths, together with Judaism and Christianity. With regard to their philosophies, moral values and visions of life there are not many differences between those religions. I therefore believe that it would be a great mistake to divide the world into the west and the rest. No moral or political grounds justify such an approach.

It is not possible for the EU to hide behind the high walls of a castle; that is not wise either. The alternative is to reach out and embrace Islam through the concept of the unity of human civilisation. If that concept is adopted, it will also facilitate the modernisation process in Islamic countries. We are trying to convince other member states in the Organisation of the Islamic Conference to modernise. If the concept of the unity of human civilisation is adopted by us all, it will facilitate the task of Islamic countries in their modernisation efforts.

We are not afraid in that regard. We are a secular country, and our modernisation process started in the 19th century at the same time as that of Japan - 1839 to be precise. We have therefore been modernising our country for a long time, and Islam does not constitute a threat to our regime. We see ourselves as living testimony that Islam and democracy are compatible.

Deputy Andrews: I thank the ambassador for attending. Many of the questions regarding Cyprus that I wished to ask him have already been answered. I have only one question, regarding the Kurdish population. There are UN guiding principles on internal displacement. The Turkish Government has been criticised for failing to reach an agreement with the United Nations and the European Union regarding partnerships to facilitate the return of displaced Kurds. Our own briefing document refers to 380,000 people in that category. I will be going on the trip to Turkey and I look forward to finding out more about that. Perhaps the ambassador might tell us what is preventing that partnership from being created.

The second matter, which has not been touched on, except perhaps a little by Deputy Haughey, is the economy. I wonder how Turkey will adapt to the economic requirements of membership. Going by our briefing document, Turkey has a very serious problem with foreign debt. I do not expect the ambassador to tell me how Turkey will solve it, but perhaps he might tell us how it intends to get over that problem to satisfy the requirements of membership.

I hope that when we go there we will talk to trades union representatives, women’s groups and farmers’ groups. Does the Turkish agriculture sector fear the implications of reforms of the Common Agricultural Policy? What is the state of debate on that? I am sure there is a significant Turkish agriculture sector.

Mr. Berki Dibek: In the reform process, we have, as the Deputy mentioned, started a dialogue with international organisations, including the EU Commission, regarding internally displaced persons. We have also enacted a law to compensate terror victims. The Deputy referred to 380,000. My figure is that, as of July 2004, 121,450 people, constituting more than one third of the displaced persons, had returned to their villages.

Deputy Andrews: That is still a large number. We are relying on the Department of Foreign Affairs.

Mr. Berki Dibek: Yes, and two thirds of them are still waiting to return. We have recognised the need to improve the return to village and rehabilitation project, as it is known. We will continue to make every effort in that regard, but it is primarily a matter of financial resources. The law on compensating the victims of terror also provided a remedy for the grievances caused by events beginning in the 1980s. We have also started a relationship with the University of Hacetepe, which is carrying out a survey with the representatives of the UN and the EU, with the participation of NGOs. We are trying to figure out how we might find remedies to the displacement issue. It is not an easy task. When members travel to Turkey, they will get better technical answers to that question, but we are doing our best, and we will rectify the wrongs of the past.

Deputy Andrews: What about foreign debt?

Mr. Berki Dibek: The Turkish economy grew by 8% in 2002 and 6% in 2003. Growth in the first six months of this year was 13.5%. It is therefore growing fast.

Deputy Andrews: It states in my document that there was 3.6% growth in 2004.

Mr. Berki Dibek: No, it is 13.5%, for the first six months, but by the end of the year it is estimated to be over 10%. We are doing fine in that regard. Export levels are continuing to break records and the consumer and wholesale price indices are decreasing. We will probably have a single digit rate of inflation by the end of the year.

As of January we will drop six zeros of our currency, which means that the economy will be stable. It is not easy to drop zeros from the currency. We also implement great fiscal discipline and maintain a 6% primary surplus in our budget to pay off the national debt. In the past two years we have achieved this 6% of surplus in our budget. As the committee knows we are implementing an austerity programme with the International Monetary Fund which has strict control over the financial figures.

We believe that if the accession negotiations begin next year this will be a further boost to the Turkish economy. At the moment Turkey is the second fastest developing economy, after China, the experts say. For instance, 17 million tourists visited Turkey last year, generating close to €15 million in revenue from that sector. I would say the economy is performing well but people who are more expert than I am in this area can confirm this.

Deputy Andrews: Will the ambassador give his views on the Common Agricultural Policy?

Mr. Berki Dibek: Agriculture is a difficult issue. We have a large rural population. Although the rate is decreasing, it is still the highest rural population in Europe. This is a significant cause of unemployment because rural people gravitate towards the cities as the economy grows. New jobs have to be generated in the process of urbanisation and this is not easy.

As regards the Common Agricultural Policy, of course we do not have a customs union in agricultural goods. There are difficulties involved here which will present challenges in the negotiation process. Nonetheless, we have a dynamic economy. We have, in particular, the South Eastern Anatolia Project, which I mentioned previously in my official statement. When that comes into effect, then the agricultural sector will grow further.

Is the Deputy asking how we will adapt our agricultural sector to the EU?

Deputy Andrews: The reform programme of the Common Agricultural Policy, which has been implemented over the last four or five years, has required Irish farmers to adapt on foot of lengthy negotiations. I wonder how that will affect Turkey.

Mr. Berki Dibek: I am sure that sacrifices will have to be made. Agriculture will not be an easy sector for Turkey, but the difficulties will have to be overcome.

Senator McDowell: I welcome the ambassador. I want to make a point and to ask a couple of questions. We have discussed Cyprus at considerable length. However, I was particularly struck by the ambassador’s description of it as being a question between Turkish Cypriots and Greek Cypriots. While that is true, by and large, I am sure he will agree that it is also complicated by the fact that significant numbers of settlers have come from Turkey since 1973, as well as by the presence of the Turkish military still, in some numbers. I am not sure I agree with Deputy Haughey that the Annan plan is dead. Clearly, there will have to be some redrawing of the map, but the basic structure is still right, I believe. We all acknowledge the generally positive approach of the ambassador’s government, and that of the Turkish Cypriot government of the time, to the issue and we seek reassurance that this will continue.

I have two questions. Turkey has some continuing difficulties with Iraq and the Kurdish population there and with Armenia, as Senator Lydon described. I gather there is also some difficulty with Syria and we are well aware of the problems in Cyprus. Whatever about the Copenhagen criteria with which we have dealt in some detail, we need assurances that Turkey is committed towards recognising and maintaining the territorial integrity of neighbouring states. There was a point, several months ago, when it appeared that some Turkish troops had entered northern Iraq. It did not amount to a wholescale invasion, but it was a time of considerable concern. I find it inconceivable that the European Union could find itself in a position where one of its member states, even in such circumstances, was seeking to occupy part of a neighbouring country. We would need reassurance on that point.

I would like to make a general political comment to the ambassador, if I may. In a sense we are discussing the various criteria on which the EU as a whole has asked Turkey to state its position. In so far as it goes, that is fair enough. The real difficulty, however, from my personal viewpoint, is that I support the creation of a political union in Europe on the basis of the European social model, our common history and so on. I believe that in order to do that we need to command the support of our citizens. In order to give that allegiance and support, our citizens need to feel they have a certain amount in common with the people who are also to form part of that political union. The ambassador spoke earlier about a union of human civilisations, or whatever, as a form of “united nations”. I am not in favour of a united nations in Europe. I am in favour of a union that is capable of commanding the support and allegiance of its citizens. I am afraid that if we make it more diffuse and heterogeneous, then it becomes impossible to do that. I am talking in a sense for myself, but also for a large number of people in the EU as it currently exists.

I wonder whether the ambassador’s citizens feel that they are European. Do people in Anatolia and on the borders of Iraq feel themselves to be European? Would they want to give their allegiance to a European political union or do they see it as a means to prosperity and of bedding down democracy? Obviously, those are good things in themselves, which I am sure the ambassador and I both support. However, they do not require membership of the European Union. Does the ambassador understand my difficulties?

Mr. Berki Dibek: Yes, I do. Ataturk’s dictum to us was, “Peace at home, and peace abroad”, and that is the principle that guides our foreign policy towards the regions around us. It has been clear and consistent every since Ataturk dictated our foreign policy. We have always advocated the resolution of disputes through peaceful means and dialogue. We always try to contribute to the peaceful settlement of outstanding disputes.

We liquidated an empire after the First World War and we could easily have become a revisionist country, but we never adopted such a stance. We always defended, if you like, the status quo. Turkish foreign policy always favours peace and stability and we have done our best to achieve that objective. We have troops in Bosnia and Kosovo and we will be working again for UNICEF in Afghanistan in 2005. We have already served as a lead nation for it there last year under the auspices of the International Narcotic Control Board, and we will be repeating this exercise next year. We have always participated in peacemaking and peacekeeping efforts.

As regards Turkish public opinion, there is strong support for the EU membership process. Close to 80% of Turkish people support Turkey’s application for EU membership. The Turkish people feel they are European. What defines a European? Is it a people who share a geographical area, a culture, a common history or religion? We believe the consciousness of being a European emanates not from geographical boundaries, religion, or political history but from common values - universal values. Europe is an ideal that depends on universal values, which are not the monopoly of any group.

The European Union is a model for integrating a diversity of cultures to a common and contemporary identity. There are approximately 20 million Muslims living in Europe. Europe is already a multicultural society. We believe that Europe is ready to commit itself to a union of diverse races, cultures and religions, bound together by common rules and regulations. I do not think multiculturalism will be a handicap for Europe.

The general public in the European Union is not well informed on Turkey’s aspirations and this gives rise to problems. Turkey has reformed its systems and carried out a programme of modernisation. The EU Commission in its recommendation to the Council deemed it necessary to have a third pillar in order to strengthen political and cultural dialogue between the EU member states and Turkey. Political and cultural dialogue must be established and people brought together. It is incumbent not only on Turkey but on European governments to inform their citizens on the assets that Turkey will bring to the EU. As I mentioned, the only approach to take is the unity of civilisation and shared values. We believe that Europe is ready to accept that Islam will be the religion of the majority.

Chairman: I thank His Excellency, Mr. Berki Dibek, for appearing before the committee. We look forward to travelling to Turkey.

As Mr. Berki Dibek is aware, the Irish electorate has had some very strong opinions about accession. What would he say to an Irish person, who did not have a great grasp of European affairs, who asked him why Ireland should support the accession of Turkey?

Mr. Berki Dibek: I find the Irish public very open-minded and I believe it welcomes the fact that Turkey will start negotiations to join the EU. Every year close to 60,000 Irish tourists travel to Turkey and they know the country well. Of course, the embassy must work hard to get the support of the Irish public. There are scares in member states that Turkey will suck the European Union of funds. Turkey is aware that the funds in the European Union have diminished and it is not the same as it used to be.

Chairman: What would Mr. Berki Dibek say to an Irish farmer?

Mr. Berki Dibek: Let me reiterate that we have achieved the customs union without the transfer of much funds from the European Union. People said it would be impossible for Turkey to compete with European industry, but it has happened and now almost half of our trade is with the European Union. The process of negotiations will take a long time and in due course Turkey will be ready. The idea of the negotiation process is to prepare the accession state for membership, so Turkey will become a member when its economy is ready. I do not think there is any need to fear Turkish membership. I think the Irish public will be ready to welcome Turkey, when the time comes for Turkey to become a member state

Chairman: I thank His Excellency, the ambassador, Mr. Berki Dibek, and appreciate the help he has given us in the past three weeks. We look forward to visiting Turkey and again thank him for his help in arranging our visit.

Mr. Berki Dibek: I thank the Chairman for the invitation to speak to this committee.

Chairman: I propose we go into private session. Is that agreed? Agreed.

The joint committee went into private session at 3.30 p.m. and adjourned at 3.50 p.m. until 11 a.m. on Thursday, 18 November 2004.

1 2004 Regular Report on Turkey’s progress towards accession COM(2004) 656 final

2 FINAL A6-0063/2004 3.12.2004 REPORT of the Committee on Foreign Affairs on the 2004 regular report and the recommendation of the European Commission on Turkey’s progress towards accession (COM(2004)0656 - C6-0148/2004 - 2004/2182(INI)) and P5_TA(2004)0274. The resolution of the European Parliament of 1 April 2004 on the 2003 regular report of the Commission on Turkey’s progress towards accession and its previous resolutions adopted between 18 June 1987 and 1 April 2004

3 It is torture if ill treatment is continuous, common, purposeful

4 See Resolution 1380 (2004) of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe. The Resolution says ……
"24. The Assembly considers that over the last three years Turkey has clearly demonstrated its commitment and ability to fulfil its statutory obligations as a Council of Europe member state. Given the progress achieved since 2001, the Assembly is confident that the Turkish authorities will apply and consolidate the reforms in question, the implementation of which will require considerable changes to its legislation and regulations, extending beyond 2004. The Assembly therefore decides to close the monitoring procedure under way since 1996.
25. The Assembly will continue, through its Monitoring Committee, the post-monitoring dialogue with the Turkish authorities on the issues raised in paragraph 23 above, and on any other matter that might arise in connection with Turkey’s obligations as a Council of Europe member state.”

1 Source: Issues Arising form Turkey’s Membership Perspective. European Commission

2 Recommendation 1247 (1994)

1 Based on Turkey and the European Union: Just another enlargement. Kirsty Hughers. Friends of Europe Working Paper. June 2004

1 Bernard Allen replaced Jim O’Keeffe by order of the Dáil on 20 October 2004

2 Barry Andrews was elected Vice Chairman on 25 November 2004

3 John Deasy replaced Gay Mitchell by order of the Dáil on 20 October 2004 and was elected as Chairman on 20 October 2004

4 Michael Mulcahy replaced Seán Haughey by order of the Dáil on 18 November 2004

5 Ruairí Quinn replaced Jack Wall by order of the Dáil on 7th November 2002

6 Dan Wallace replaced Michael Mulcahy by order of the Dáil on 16 November 2004

7 Joe Walsh replaced Pat Carey by order of the Dáil on 16 November 2004