|EU parliament says Turkey must recognise "genocide"
Wed Sep 28, 2005 1:21 PM BST
STRASBOURG, France (Reuters) -
The European Parliament said on Wednesday that
Turkey must recognise the killing of Armenians under Ottoman rule in 1915
as genocide before it can join the European Union.
The non-binding resolution was a political slap in the face for Ankara,
which insists there was no genocide, but it should not derail the planned start
of Turkey's EU membership talks next week, since accession is at least a decade away.
The EU legislature also postponed a vote, which had been due on Wednesday,
to approve Turkey's extended customs union with the EU, in a bid to
Ankara to open its ports and airports to traffic from EU member Cyprus.
Despite a plea from the executive European Commission, lawmakers backed a
last-minute move by the conservative European People's Party, led by
Christian Democrats, to delay giving assent to the so-called Ankara
They demanded an undertaking that when the Turkish parliament ratifies the
protocol extending the customs union to new EU member states, it would not
attach a government declaration refusing to recognise Cyprus.
The European Parliament resolution endorsed the start of accession
negotiations next Monday but included a series of criticisms of Turkey's
record on human
rights, religious freedom and minorities reflecting sceptical public opinion
The vote followed an emotional debate in which many deputies, especially on
the right, poured out their hostility to the prospect of the poor, populous,
mainly Muslim nation joining the 25-nation bloc.
EU Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn appealed in vain to parliament not to
score "an own goal" by refusing to approve the extended customs union.
But Commission spokeswoman Pia Ahrenkilde Hansen said the delay should not
affect the start of entry talks.
"It is not a condition for opening accession talks with Turkey on October 3
since it was signature of the Ankara Protocol which was a condition and not
ratification," she told a news briefing in Brussels.
However, she added that eventual ratification by the European Parliament was