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3.7.

2003 EN Official Journal of the European Union C 155 E/111

(2003/C 155 E/119) WRITTEN QUESTION E-3203/02


by Stavros Xarchakos (PPE-DE) to the Council

(11 November 2002)

Subject: Personal freedoms in Turkey and Albania

According to Community officials, the EU wishes to send a ‘message of encouragement’ to Turkey, while
continuing to strengthen relations with Albania. However, the Albanian press reports that private
correspondence between Albanian citizens is constantly interfered with, and the respected French
newspaper, ‘Le Figaro’, reported on 22 October 2002 that Mr A. Firat, a candidate standing in the Turkish
elections on 3 November, had been arrested by the Turkish police on 21 October 2002 and charged with
using the Kurdish language at an election rally.

Is the Council aware of these flagrant violations of personal freedoms in Turkey and Albania? Why do
such violations continue despite years of protest by MEPs, respected international publications, NGOs and
other bodies? Has the Council perhaps failed to make clear that any country’s economic or other relations
with the EU are dependent on absolute respect for fundamental personal freedoms, which are an integral
part of European culture? Why are the ‘reforms’ recently announced by Turkey concerning the use of
Kurdish in education and broadcasting not being implemented? Do the ‘reforms’ announced by the Turkish
government include the repeal of the antiquated electoral law applying in Turkey, which prohibits
candidates from using any language other than Turkish?

Reply

(3 March 2003)

The Honourable Member rightly points out the existing shortcomings in the field of human rights and
fundamental freedoms in Turkey, in particular with respect to rights and freedoms for Turkish citizens of
Kurdish origin. Such shortcomings, both as regards legislation and implementation, are regularly taken up
by the EU in the political dialogue meetings with Turkey at various levels, most recently on the occasion of
the EU political directors troika to Ankara of 31 October.

It is however undeniable that an important process of political reform is currently underway in Turkey, by
which, as acknowledged by the European Council, Turkey has moved closer to meeting the political
criteria for accession to the EU. The reform package of 3 August 2002, which the EU had welcomed in a
declaration, contains i.a. provisions on education and broadcasting in Kurdish. Regulations to implement
the new provisions on education have recently been passed and implementation of the provisions on
broadcasting is currently in preparation. In this respect, Turkey will be encouraged to promote and fully
implement all necessary measures for the protection of the rights of religious, linguistic or ethnic
minorities, in order to adapt herself to the European standards of human rights protection.

The most recent legislative package of December tends to confirm this orientation, i.a. by relaxing the
restrictiveness of the provisions governing freedom of association, including as regards the use of
languages other than Turkish. The EU has begun the examination of these measures presented in early
December 2002 with a view to assessing the improvement in the enjoyment of rights and freedoms for all
citizens irrespective of their origin and is looking forward to proper implementation of new legislation.

The European Council in Copenhagen concluded that 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.

Regarding the Albanian situation, the Council stresses that it never comments on press statements or
reports and informs the Honourable Parliamentarian that it is not aware of any specific case where there
has been interference with private correspondence. However, the question of respect for democratic
C 155 E/112 Official Journal of the European Union EN 3.7.2003

principles and human rights is an integral part of the Stabilisation and Association Process and it is
regularly raised in the dialogue between the EU and Albania. It will also prominently figure in the
Stabilisation and Association Agreement which the Commission will negotiate with Albania based on the
mandate authorised by the Council on 21 October 2002.

(2003/C 155 E/120) WRITTEN QUESTION E-3209/02


by Camilo Nogueira Román (Verts/ALE) to the Council

(12 November 2002)

Subject: Massacre in Russia

What is the Council’s position and what measures has it taken vis-à-vis the criminal and irresponsible
action of President Putin and the Russian Government, which caused the deaths not only of the Chechen
rebels responsible for the hostage-taking but also of hundreds of the hostages themselves?

(2003/C 155 E/121) WRITTEN QUESTION E-3325/02


by Olivier Dupuis (NI) to the Council

(25 November 2002)

Subject: Official death toll in the Moscow hostage crisis

According to the figures provided by the Moscow city prosecutor on 7 November 2002, 128 people (120
Russians and eight foreigners) died in the hostage crisis which unfolded at the theatre in Melnikova Street
between 23 and 26 October 2002. Five of these victims, all Russians, had died from gunshot wounds,
implying that 123 people had died as a result of inhaling the gas used in the storming of the theatre.
These latest figures from the Russian authorities also indicated that all the hostage-takers (19 women and
22 men) had been killed in the attack. The same authorities had previously stated that ‘two terrorists’ had
been taken prisoner.

How does the Council view the fact that the Russian authorities, who had originally claimed to have
captured the two terrorists, now say that all the terrorists died in the attack? Has the Council already
requested a list of the names of all those who died in the hostage crisis, including the names of the
terrorists, and the cause of each person’s death? More generally, has the Council drawn any conclusions
from the latest figures provided by the Russian authorities and the way that the antiterrorist operation was
conducted, and if so what conclusions has it reached?

Joint answer
to Written Questions E-3209/02 and E-3325/02

(20 February 2003)

The holding in Moscow of over 700 hostages, from 23 to 26 October 2002, was a source of grave
concern in the EU, as it was in Russia. The European Council, on 24/25 October 2002, expressed its
position on this set of events in the declaration issued on 25 October and contained in Annex III of the
related Conclusions of the Presidency.

On the occasion of the EU-Russia summit held in Brussels, on 11 November 2002, the European Union
and Russia made a joint statement on the fight against terrorism, in which they declared to stand united in
this fight with due regard for the rule of law, for democratic principles and for the territorial integrity of
States. On the basis of common commitments they drew common aims with a view to developing their
strategic partnership in this respect, including the definition of EU-Russia co-operation in the fight against
terrorism.