HC Deb 02 March 1994 vol 238 cc931-2
7. Mr. Rooker

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what plans he has to visit Turkey to discuss the position of minorities.

Mr. Heathcoat-Amory

My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary visited Turkey on 19 and 20 January. He has no plans at present for a further visit.

Mr. Rooker

Was it spelt out in clear terms to the Turkish Government that while they maintain discrimina-tion against minorities, particularly the Kurdish minority, by banning the use of the language, not allowing the teaching of the language and banning its use in public speeches, any application that they make to join the European Union is totally and utterly out of the question?

Mr. Heathcoat-Amory

When Turkey originally applied to join the European Community, the application was turned down and it was pointed out that its human rights record did not come up to the required European standards. I believe that that is the case even today. My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary raised those matters with Mrs. Ciller, the Prime Minister. We believe that Kurdish aspirations must be pursued constitutionally. That is a message for the PKK—the terrorist organisation—and for the Turkish Government.

Sir Jim Spicer

Does my hon. Friend accept that there is a world of difference between meeting Kurdish aspirations and the problem that the Turkish Government have in dealing with one of the most vicious terrorist organisations in the world?

Mr. Heathcoat-Amory

Yes. The PKK does not respect human rights, but the message delivered forcefully by my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary was that the Turkish Government must not respond in kind. They must deal with the terrorist threat within the rule of law and by respecting human rights.

Ms Quin

Did the Minister see the reports in the Financial Times of 20 and 21 January in which the United Kingdom and Germany were described as Turkey's main friends and advocates within the EU"? It was also reported that the Foreign Secretary was seeking to deepen ties between Turkey and the European Union. Will the Minister confirm that there will be no question of making further progress with Turkey's application to join the European Union and that it should be a long way back in the queue, certainly behind the former communist countries of eastern Europe which are now democratic and are seeking to join the European Union?

Mr. Heathcoat-Amory

The European Union has important relations with Turkey and it was important that my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary should develop them further. There is no question of reassessing the possibility of Turkish membership of the European Union at present.

Mr. Anthony Coombs

I recognise that there have been atrocities on both sides, but has my hon. Friend seen the recent report by Amnesty International which outlined the appalling atrocities committed by Turkish security forces in the eastern part of Turkey? One incident involved the burning by the security forces of a 16-year-old shepherd boy from Kurdistan. Will my hon. Friend confirm that Turkey's application to join the European Union will have no chance of further progress if that country continues to have an appalling human rights record?

Mr. Heathcoat-Amory

Any such behaviour by the Turkish security forces is wholly unacceptable and I can confirm that when Turkey's application to join the European Union is reassessed, its human rights record will play a part in that assessment.

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