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18 February, 1999
The European Commission has asked External Affairs Commissioner Hans van den Broek to raise the Ocalan issue before the Council of Ministers, meeting in Luxembourg on Monday.
"We must not forget that whatever happens in the next few days and months will have tremendous repercussions on the Kurdish population in Turkey, as well as those Kurds living in the European Union. We must also not forget that the issue concerns a man who, irrespectively of whether one agrees with his views and actions, is a symbol for the Kurdish people. At last, Europe must assume its responsibilities in relation to these developments," said Commissioner Christos Papoutsis, who promoted the initiative.
"During the last six months, member-states showed reluctance to grant Ocalan political asylum, not managing to agree on a political approach to the issue, such as an international trial, as it had been proposed, and, as I believe, would have been the right political approach. Now, the European Union must adopt a clear political position, and with a view to this we must focus our efforts in two directions. First, it must be made clear to Turkey that the development of this issue, and respect for democratic principles, human rights and the principles of law, will crucially affect its further relations with the European Union.
"Secondly, the European Union must now undertake a more specific initiative in the direction of a political solution of the Kurdish issue, otherwise we risk being accused of using double standards, being always prepared to discuss Bosnia and Kosovo, but not showing the same zest for the human rights of Kurds in Turkey," Mr. Papoutsis argued.
Mr. van den Broek reiterated the need for a "fair trial" for Mr. Ocalan, but stressed that violence should be condemned wherever it originated.
The European Commission, finally, agreed to urge Turkey to adopt all the necessary measures in order to ensure that the issue would evolve according to the general principles of international law, democratic principles and human rights, including the rights of defendants.
Euro-MP Alavanos heads to Turkey:
Meanwhile, Euro-MP Alekos Alavanos will travel to Istanbul today to present a Europarliament committee's resolutions on PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan.
The European Parliament committee on foreign affairs, defense and security, convening in Brussels yesterday, adopted resolutions calling on Turkish judicial authorities to guarantee humane treatment of the captured Kurd rebel leader.
Mr. Alavanos, a Eurodeputy representing the Coalition of the Left and Progress, will represent the European Parliament at the joint committee meeting with the Turkish national assembly.
The Europarliament committee called for Mr. Ocalan's trial to be fair and public, for the accused to be given the right to choose his own lawyer and that European Parliament members be allowed to visit him.
It also reminded Turkey of its obligations as a member of the Council of Europe not to apply the death penalty.
The committee also noted that a political solution was needed to the Kurdish issue and that a just solution would be definitive for the future of relations between the European Union and Turkey.
Source: Athens News Agency