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European Commission

Štefan Füle

European Commissioner for Enlargement and Neighbourhood Policy

Dialogue for a peaceful solution of the Kurdish issue in Turkey

Plenary debate, European Parliament, Strasbourg

6 February 2013

Dialogue for a peaceful solution of the Kurdish issue in Turkey

(Strasbourg, 5 February 2013) ''A successful outcome would not only put an end to a conflict that has claimed tens of thousands of lives over the past three decades. It would solve many outstanding problems in Turkey, and play a crucial role in fostering political and constitutional reforms; it would be a strong incentive for the adoption of the fourth judicial reform package, actually addressing the key problems related to freedom of expression and other fundamental rights and it would facilitate the redrafting of the constitution, with respect to the right of citizenship.'' said Commissioner Štefan Füle at the plenary debate in the European Parliament.

In this regard, a solution of this issue would have a strong impact on the accession process of Turkey as such, as it would further consolidate the role of the European Union as a benchmark for reforms in Turkey.

In turn, putting the accession negotiations back on the right track would also be a strong incentive for supporting a solution to this issue and to the reform process in general.

In the meantime, I welcome steps such as the recent adoption of the law allowing for the defence in Kurdish in Courts as an important confidence building measure in the context of the on-going talks.

Regarding the redrafting of the constitution, we have understood that it has entered a critical stage. While all parties are to be congratulated for the constructive attitude so far, now is the time for results in the spirit of compromise and I cannot underline enough the importance of keeping up the participatory process.

Finally a few words on the tragic events which occurred in Paris last month.

We are aware of the distress this triple murder has provoked. We are confident that the on-going investigations by the French authorities will shed full light on this crime. We encourage all parties involved not to let this horrible incident or other possible provocations in the future distract them from their goal to achieve peace.

Honourable members,

It is crucial that the European Union as a whole conveys its strong and clear support for these on-going efforts. It remains equally important that we coordinate our messages of support to Turkey.

The Commission stands ready to assist where it can, including on using our financial assistance under our Instrument for Pre-Accession to support a post conflict and reconciliation strategy and to expand further the socio economic development as well as the political and cultural rights of the citizens of Kurdish origin.

Thank you!

Concluding remarks

First of all, since some of you have raised the issue, you need to know that our progress report, like for a number of previous years, has been translated by our Delegation in Ankara into Turkish and has been put on the website of the Delegation.

Second point: I was happy to note, in my meeting yesterday evening with representatives of the BDP (I see a number of them being with us today to observe this debate), that the Kurdish politicians and civil society remain fully committed to a successful outcome of the talks. In can only encourage them to maintain this constructive, solution-oriented approach and to resist any provocative action aiming at distracting them from the search of a peaceful solution.

Regarding what we can do concretely to support this effort: on the one hand, the Commission monitors the compliance of Turkey with the political criteria, of which respect for the rights of people belonging to minorities are an important component. We raise issues of concern on a regular basis with the Turkish authorities and assist them where we can in their reforms. I can mention the work done in the Working Group for the chapter on Judiciary and Fundamental Rights (23) under the positive agenda, in which we are working with Turkey on notably the adoption of a Human Rights Action Plan.

We also have a number of projects financed by the Instrument for Pre Accession in South East Turkey, such as a project aimed at the empowerment of Women, a training project for Children on mines and other wastes of conflict or a project in support of local research on disappearances, unsolved murders and mass graves in South-East Turkey. We currently run projects of more than 400 million euros of IPA funds which benefit directly or indirectly the Southeast of the country.

Obviously, should a wider effort be requested to support a post-conflict and reconciliation strategy, the Commission would be ready to support it including through its financial assistance.

A last point: I understand this debate as a strong support for a peaceful solution of the Kurdish issue and for the current talks, stressing, as you did, the wider context of the reform process in Turkey. And because of that it is being a good debate.

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