Dáil Éireann - Volume 544 - 22 November, 2001
Written Answers. - Foreign Conflicts.
Mr. O'Shea Mr. O'Shea
52. Mr. O'Shea asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs if the comprehensive discrimination against the Kurdish people in Turkey has been discussed at either the European Union or the UN Security Council. [29257/01]
Mr. Cowen Mr. Cowen
Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr. Cowen): The European Council meeting in Helsinki in December 1999 accorded Turkey candidate status in relation to EU accession. However, the strengthening of Turkey's links with the EU and its eventual accession depend on Turkey's pursuit of the political and economic reforms on which it has embarked, including the alignment of human rights standards and practices with those in force in the EU and respect for and protection of minorities.
Progress toward fulfilling these criteria is kept under constant review. The Helsinki European Council provided that the EU-Turkey enhanced political dialogue would emphasise progress toward fulfilling the political criteria for Turkey's accession with particular reference to the issue of human rights. The EU Commission monitors the human rights situation in Turkey and in its 2001 Regular Report on Turkey's Progress Towards Accession, published on 13 November, it noted that the recent constitutional amendments are a significant step toward strengthening guarantees in the field of human rights and fundamental freedoms and limiting capital punishment. However, the report also noted that a number of restrictions on the exercise of fundamental freedoms have remained. The report noted that in the field of cultural rights, while constitutional changes are to be welcomed, the actual situation has not  improved notably in relation to broadcasting and education.
While the daily private use of Kurdish language and Kurdish cultural expression are not prohibited by law, nonetheless those who speak that language or promote or engage in Kurdish cultural activities may in certain circumstances find themselves susceptible to legal sanction. Broadcasting and publishing in Kurdish continue to be banned although there is an expectation that these bans will be lifted in line with the recent constitutional amendments. The situation of the Kurds in Turkey has not arisen at the UN Security Council.
Question No. 53 answered with Question No. 50.
Dáil Éireann 544 Written Answers. Foreign Conflicts.