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Turkish entry to EU dependent on commitment to human rights

6 October, 2004

Sinn Féin Dublin MEP Mary Lou McDonald has said that she would welcome Turkish entry into the EU, but only when 'they have fulfilled the 'Copenhagen Criteria' on democracy and respect for human rights'.

Ms McDonald made her comments before the European Commission's expected announcement on opening EU accession talks with Turkey today.

Speaking from Brussels Ms McDonald:

"Sinn Féin looks forward to a time when Turkey can enter the EU as a full and equal member. Turkish membership can only enhance cultural diversity within the EU. However, Turkey has an appalling human rights record, it continues to militarily occupy Cyprus and has denied the Kurdish people their right to self-determination.

"If as expected, the European Commission recommends opening accession talks with Turkey, Sinn Féin believes that entry into the EU must be subject to their adherence to the 'Copenhagen Criteria' on democracy and respect for human rights. And let's not kid ourselves. This will require a massive leap on the part of the Turkish political and legal establishments to deliver the necessary convincing and durable change in conditions.

"Sinn Féin is also concerned with much of the xenophobic reaction to Turkey's possible entry into the EU. There has been irresponsible scaremongering about an influx of immigrants from Turkey into EU states after their accession. I would emphasise that Marrti Ahtisaari, former Finnish President and head of an independent commission investigating Turkish membership to the EU, has said that fears of an influx of immigrants to the EU are 'vastly exaggerated'.

"I would also remind people that these same concerns were raised before and during the recent accession process with respect to Eastern European migration, and there is no indication that anything of the sort occurred.

"Sinn Féin remains to be convinced that Turkey are up to the challenge of promoting a fully inclusive and human rights compliant society." ENDS

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