A non-government information service on Turkey
Un service d'information non-gouvernemental sur la Turquie


16th Year - N°187
May 1992
38 rue des Eburons - 1000 Bruxelles
Tél: (32-2) 215 35 76 - Fax: (32-2) 215 58 60
 Rédacteur en chef: Dogan Özgüden - Editrice responsable: Inci Tugsavul


    In May 1992, the Committee on Foreign Affairs and Security of the European Parliament adopted two detailed reports directly concerning Turkey.
    The first report, on EC-Turkey relations, was drafted by Mrs. Raymonde Dury, Belgian Socialist member of the Parliament,  and considered earlier by the Committee at its its meetings of 20 September 1991, 27 November 1991, 16 March 1992, 22 April 1992 and 18 May 1992. At the last meeting, the report was adopted by 24 votes to 11 with 4 abstentions.
    The second report, on the rights of the Kurdish people, was drafted by Mr. Jas Gawronski, Italian Liberal member of the Parliament, and considered earlier by the Committee at its    meetings of 20 January, 19 February and 19 May 1992. At the last meeting, the report was adopted by 38 votes to 2, with 1 abstention.
    The motions for a resolution, adopted by the Committee, will be debated at the June 9 session of the Parliamentary Assembly and the final texts of the Resolutions will appear in the June 1992 issue of Info-Türk.
    In this issue, we are reproducing the slightly abridged texts of the explanatory statements by the rapporteurs.


    Mrs Raymonde Dury, rapporteur for the Committee on Foreign Affairs and Security on relations between the European Community and Turkey, visited Turkey from 5 to 11 June 1991 to meet a number of prominent figures from the Turkish political and economic scene.


1. The political climate

    At the time the rapporteur visited Turkey, the political climate was that of an election campaign, although a general election was due only in autumn 1992. The early general election took place on 20 October. The turnout was 83.92% and the results were as follows :
         %    Seats
DYP -    True Path Party    27.3    178
ANAP -    Motherland Party    24.1    115
SHP -    Social Democratic Party    20.75    84
RP -    Welfare Party    16.88    62
DSP -    Democratic Left Party    10.75    7

    The Right thus won 68% of the votes but no party obtained a majority of 226 seats in parliament. The cabinet of Mr Yilmaz resigned. A coalition was now needed to form a government.
    Attention should be drawn to the entry into parliament of the Welfare Party and of Mr Ecevit's DSP.

2. The democratization process and human rights

    All those with whom discussions were held (government and opposition) spoke in favour of democratization, because it is needed in itself to give Turkey the image of a “civilized country” and because Turkey has opted to move closer to the western democracies.
    2.1. Some progress has certainly been achieved, such as the establishment of a Committee of Human Rights in the National Assembly and the adoption by the National Assembly of the law of 12 April 1991 abolishing Articles 141, 142 and 163 of the Turkish penal code; thanks to this law, the use of the Kurdish language is legal once again, as are the Communist and Islamic parties. Under the interpretation given by the ruling party, freedom of opinion, speech and conscience are now fully recognized, provided no violence is used. The law also provides for the conditional release of all persons charged with or convicted on related offences.
    2.2. Apart from these notable advances, there are a number of problems which give rise to serious concern and on which your rapporteur was able to speak freely with members of the SHP, the Press Council, the association for human rights, students and individuals in the emergency zone.
    - Among these problems is freedom of the press: according to the Press Council, freedom of the press does not yet exist; since the Constitution makes no reference to the right to information, “the press is working in the dark”. The chairman of the Press Council therefore believes the Constitution should be reformed and this right introduced and guaranteed. Freedom of the press can certainly not be said to exist in the emergency zone (the provinces of south and south-east Anatolia), given the powers of confiscation (or the risk of harsh penalties for journalists) granted to the prefects of these regions. However, there were now believed to be no journalists left in prison. The expulsion of the British journalist Fisk was raised and roundly condemned. The chairman of the Press Council said that the expulsion of a journalist for professional reasons was completely unacceptable.
    Reference was made to frequent seizures of newspapers and magazines (e.g. “Ülke”, a newspaper published in Turkish and advocating an independent Kurdistan, as well as left-wing and far-left magazines).
    The rapporteur herself fell victim to a sector of the Turkish press which seems to be devoid of ethical standards: a Turkish daily attributed statements to her which she never made.
    2.3. Certain articles of the Constitution still prohibit women's and students' associations. Trade union rights, as we understand them, do not exist. The 1982 Constitution depoliticized Turkish society. Greater democratization is needed above all at the level of the authorities themselves. There is also a need for a change of attitudes. According to the Press Council, Turkish politicians (whether government or opposition) find it difficult to distinguish between criticism and insults.
    2.4. The main concern (according to the SHP and the association on human rights) is the anti-terrorist law adopted in April 1991 by the National Assembly, governing all areas of Turkish political and social activity. This is a law aimed at the terrorist activities of the PKK and its separatist demands.
    Of particular concern were certain provisions of the anti-terror law which, in the view of the observers and members of the Turkish opposition, created a particularly indulgent climate regarding the practice of torture (see, in particular, Article 15). Although Turkey is a signatory to a number of international conventions on torture, repeated accusations were made of the widespread use of torture in various police stations. This is a matter of grave concern, for there is no doubt that torture is fairly common in Turkey and there is a clear need to put a stop to it. Even if the authorities claim to be against it, care must be taken to ensure that it really is abolished; measures such as Article 15 of the new anti-terror law leave room for doubt as to the reprisals to be taken against those who use torture. Proceedings can only be taken against “torturers” on the authorization of the Minister of the Interior and can only be conducted before state security tribunals. There are known to be quite large numbers of torture victims and private initiatives have made it possible to set up rehabilitation centres for them. The government, which initially saw such centres as giving implicit credence to torture claims, has finally given permission for them to be set up.
    Various other provisions (Article 6 ff.) of the new anti-terror law constitute clear restrictions on freedom of speech. There is a danger that freedom of the press may be restricted even more than at present.
    Article 11 states that people may be kept in police custody for up to 30 days, which is contrary to the European Convention on Human Rights.
    The Social Democratic Party has lodged an appeal against this law with the Constitutional Council.
    The Speaker of the National Assembly, among others, was aware of the concern aroused by this law and acknowledged the risk that it might be enforced in a restrictive manner, in particular as regards the concept of “separatist activities”. He indicated that the law might be amended. Many people consider that the law effectively restores articles of the penal code which had previously been abolished.
    2.5. The state of emergency, which is a consequence of Kurdish separatist activities and the numerous attacks carried out in the region in question, covers 13 provinces, which have been governed by emergency law for 12 years (the provinces of south and south-east Anatolia, a region which is particularly backward in social and economic terms and provides fertile soil for the Kurdish separatists). According to the SHP, which is the only party to have a clear position on this problem, it is unacceptable for a self-styled democratic state to place its citizens under differing laws. This is, however, the situation which pertains in this region of around five million people whose lives are subject to extraordinary regulations and where the sociological, cultural, social and economic dimensions have often been neglected.
    The prefect in the region of thirteen provinces covered by the state of emergency believes that it should already have been lifted. In 1988 and 1991 a wave of Iraqi refugees flooded into the region and there was an increase in terrorism, in particular from 1984 onwards, largely supported by the neighbouring states; these factors have justified maintaining the special provisions. The prefect considers that the state of emergency can only be lifted if there is genuine economic development in the region. The GAP is seen as a project of national importance which may be able to assist the development of this backward region.
    2.6. The Kurdish question has been taboo in Turkish politics for many years. The Kurds are claimed not to exist as such but to be 'mountain Turks'. The long-standing approach of the government has been not to recognize any special rights for the Kurds, which, on the basis of nondiscrimination, meant that Kurds could be given the same public-sector jobs as Turks.
    The Gulf War and the influx of Iraqi-Kurdish refugees into Turkey are probably the reason for a certain change in attitudes on this matter. The use of the Kurdish language is now allowed under the law of 12 April 1991. However, it is not clear how far this extends - whether it means only the spoken language, as some would claim, while others point out that the Kurdish language is a spoken language and that it is extremely difficult to write because there are a number of variants. One thing is certain: teaching of the Kurdish language is not allowed and publications in Kurdish are regularly seized. The Kurds themselves wish their identity to be recognized but they are by no means all supporters of the PKK, which is calling for an independent Kurdistan.
    It should also be pointed out that the region effected by terrorist separatist attacks suffers from many economic and social problems (e.g. illiteracy and unemployment) and provides fertile soil for such activities. The Turkish Government should therefore be encouraged - as emphasized by some opposition parties (e.g. the SHP) - to deal with the political causes of terrorism. Without wishing to interfere in Turkish internal affairs, there can be no doubt that recognition of the Kurds' special rights - clearly not involving any challenge to the territorial integrity and unity of the Turkish nation - and greater economic support would make it possible to bring back into the mainstream a whole sector of the population which sees itself as 'second class citizens' and still lives under a special legal regime.
    There was an international outcry recently at the incursions by the Turkish army into Iraqi territory to bomb Kurdish terrorist camps. The raids caused a number of civilian casualties. The Turkish Government made clear that it was prepared to take all measures needed to guarantee the security of the country. However, the raids were denounced by one opposition party (the True Path Party of Mr Demirel).
    2.7. Certain developments should be welcomed, such as the holding of the International Socialist Congress on 9 and 10 June in Istanbul and the International Congress on Human Rights held last October, which was attended by representatives of the European Parliament. This congress would appear to have been primarily for the benefit of the media... Clearly, criticism can be communicated to the Turkish authorities through greater dialogue between the Community and Turkey, via the various existing bodies - the Joint Committee and political groups. It is hard to grasp that a country that calls itself a democracy, which is a member of the Council of Europe and of NATO, which has applied to join the European Community and has just negotiated an agreement with the EFTA countries should be riddled with such deep contradictions on the matter of democracy. The positive signs of the current process must be encouraged, because it corresponds to the wishes of the Turkish population and is moving in the right direction, leaving aside any considerations to do with Turkey's relations with the EC.
    2.8. The programme of the coalition government formed between the DYP (of Mr Demirel) and the SHP (of Mr Inönü), which was presented on 14 November, is intended to make Turkey a genuine “state based on the rule of law”. The programme emphasizes the amendments which need to be made to the Constitution and certain laws - in particular the antiterror law. These changes will “give Turkey a new image”.
    However, the Turkish Grand National Assembly has come out in favour of renewing the state of emergency in the provinces in the south-east of the country for a period of four months. The DYP, the ANAP and the RP voted in favour, the SHP against and the DSP abstained.

3. The economic and social situation

    3.1. Turkey currently faces serious economic problems: galloping inflation (around 60%), rapid urbanisation due to large-scale migration from the country, a population growth-rate of about 2% (which may be as high as 3.5% in regions such as south-east Anatolia) and a high unemployment rate. On the whole these problems were not considered to be obstacles to Turkey's development by the people to whom we spoke. They emphasized the Turkish people's capacity for hard work and the rapid industrial growth of the country. However, it is widely acknowledged that the present education system is inadequate, in particular vocational training. The recent agreement on vocational training in the mining and tourism sectors should therefore be welcomed. In addition, some holding companies (e.g. Sabanci) have set up their own training programmes. There is still a high illiteracy rate of around 20% of the population, a problem which particularly affects women and elderly people in the less favoured areas (the emergency zone). The programme of the coalition government is aimed primarily at reducing inflation and cutting taxes.
    3.2. Lastly, there is the problem of fundamentalism. This is not seen as a threat, as Turkey is a secular state, a principle which, by national consensus, may not be called into question. Nevertheless, Islam is omnipresent. The results achieved by the Welfare Party speak for themselves.
    The existence side by side of western and traditional elements (some women still wear the veil) gives the impression that Turkish society is split into two: on the one hand a significant part of the economic and political elite which has turned definitively in the direction of Europe and, on the other hand, a large proportion of the population which keeps to its traditional customs and whose standard of living is close to that of a developing country. Between those two extremes, the middle class appears to be in an uncomfortable position.


(l) Philosophy

    There is a consensus among the leading economic, business and political classes that Turkey should become a member of the European Community. This is the maximalist approach. It is based primarily on cultural arguments: ever since 1963, Turkey has made clear its wish to be a member of the Community and the association agreement signed with the Community provided for such a development. This in effect means opting for western, democratic values. Accession would guarantee Turkey's position in the family of European democracies. Parallels are often made in this respect with Greece, Spain and Portugal. It is also argued that, as Turkey is a member of the Council of Europe and Nato and proved its European credentials in the Gulf Crisis, it should play a full part in the Community. Stress was also laid on the geo-strategic element, i.e. Turkey as a bridge between Europe and the East.
    Apart from the Welfare Party, which rejects these arguments (also on the basis of cultural values), there are some nuances within the general consensus. All parties are in favour of the democratization and modernization of the country. This approach should be encouraged irrespective of the question of accession, although many of those to whom we spoke feel that accession could only facilitate progress in these areas. Some believe that Turkey will catch up to the level of the Community Member States whether it is a member or not and the goal of modernization is seen as something separate from the question of accession; for others, the modernization of Turkey can only take place if it is integrated into Europe. Some believe in a firm attachment to the Community of Twelve and wish their country to become the thirteenth member; others, while in favour of closer ties with Western Europe, are not entirely committed to accession.
    A number of our contacts found it difficult to understand the present state of development of the Community - i.e. the introduction of economic and monetary union and political union - and to see that the question of enlargement of the Community is related not only to Turkey but, in the near future, to a number of applicant countries and should therefore be discussed in a much wider context. Some took the view that there was no possible alternative to Turkey and that Turkey should be the “thirteenth member”. It would not be satisfied with a “special status” or a third type of agreement.
    The people to whom we spoke hoped that the obstacles raised by the Commission in its opinion on Turkey's request for accession, i.e. essentially economic and social obstacles, were the real reasons for the refusal. However, in the eyes of the then Prime Minister, Mr Akbulut, these objective reasons were in fact being used to mask other matters, such as human rights and the problem of Cyprus.
    The Turks felt that they were not popular in Europe and accused the European Parliament and certain left-wing forces of an unfriendly attitude towards them; they acknowledged that they do not make a good case for themselves.
    The most direct question which was most frequently posed is as follows: “Tell us whether you want us or not. If you don't want us we won't declare war on you but we will draw the appropriate conclusions for developing our markets (Demirel, Inan, Baykal)”. The President of the Republic, Mr Ozal, made it clear that if Europe did not want Turkey, Turkey would go elsewhere. The Turks thus wish to be given a firmer commitment by the Community and they wonder whether it is their eligibility as such which is being questioned (Demirel).
    The feeling is that, following the events in Eastern Europe and the subsequent applications for accession, Turkey will be last in line. In economic circles (TOBB), the view is that, while maintaining the goal of accession, Turkey should continue to seek other possibilities. Following the developments in Eastern Europe, the Community is no longer as important as it was; there are other important economic areas (the Black Sea countries, the Balkans, the Soviet Union, etc). Nevertheless it is questionable whether this alternative is really viable for Turkey.

(2)     From the technical point of view

    Those who were in favour of Turkey's accession to the Community did not envisage any economic and social difficulties. They were optimistic about their industrial growth rate and potential and believed that the Turkish market would be a huge market for the European Community. The structural disparities referred to in the Commission's opinion - in the agricultural and industrial spheres, macro-economic imbalances, the high level of protection for industry, the low level of social protection and the low per capita income were considered not to be real obstacles: reference is constantly made to the level of Greece at the time of its accession. “If there are economic constraints, we will accept them (Sabanci)”; as regards the level of protection enjoyed by Turkish industry, this is being sharply reduced (according to TOBB).
    In the immediate future, Turkey wishes to strengthen relations with the Community and thus implement the Commission's proposals, which are currently being held up by Greece's veto. The Turks in fact accuse the Community of having become “a hostage to Greece”. It is difficult for them to see that any Member State has a right of veto concerning the agreement in question; they themselves feel that the dispute between Greece and Turkey would be more easily settled and dissipated if Turkey were integrated into the European Community.
    They wish to strengthen political dialogue and, in particular, relaunch the Association Council (the ambassador of the Netherlands confirmed in this connection that his country - which was to take over the Presidency in the next few months - would ensure that this council - the only body through which the association can operate - was reestablished). The meeting of 30 September was a success to the extent that the psychological hurdle was overcome. There is now a need to go further and work at a practical level through this body. The hope was also expressed that dialogue would continue between parliamentarians on both sides, both within the European Parliament-Turkish Grand National Assembly Joint Committee and through the various political groups and parliamentary committees.

(3) Cyprus

    There is also a consensus in the country that the Cyprus issue should be kept separate from accession. There must be no linkage between Turkey's accession to the Community and the Cyprus problem. The Turkish authorities are in any case determined to solve this problem.
    In this connection the Greek authorities are accused of lacking flexibility. The Turks accuse the European Community of taking the side of one of its members, Greece. They argue that United Nations Resolution 649 should be implemented and that it is primarily up to the Greek-Cypriot and Turkish-Cypriot communities to solve the problem. Despite the Turkish Government's declared wish to solve the Cyprus question, our impression was that they were fairly satisfied with the status quo. It would therefore seem pointless to use the financial protocol to put pressure on them to solve the Cyprus question.
    (4) The limited overall budget of ECU 600 m is currently frozen but this has not prevented economic and trade relations from developing normally, particularly since the Gulf crisis. (Before the war Iraq was Turkey's largest trade partner). A number of specific cooperation measures are under way (the 'Cheysson facilities', preparations for a new EEC-Turkey trade week, attendance by Turkish officials at European Community visitors' programme, etc). The hope was expressed that such measures could be strengthened and that Turkey could participate in the ERASMUS programme.
    The recent cooperation agreement in the medical and health sector should also be welcomed, as should the training projects in the tourism and mining sector. These, too, are measures which are helping consolidate relations.


    The European Community has every interest in improving relations with Turkey, while not abandoning its demands as regards democracy and respect for human rights. These demands are in the interest of the Turkish people themselves.
    The new coalition government should be supported in its efforts to make changes and attach Turkey to the family of European democracies, if the country is not to topple into the fundamentalist camp or face the risk of destabilization. The current fragile political climate in this part of Eastern Europe should remind the Community that it is vital that Turkey continues to play a major stabilizing role there. The best way to achieve this end is to relaunch and strengthen cooperation.

Second part


    Six months after the new government came into office, your rapporteur again visited Turkey (on her own initiative, while being given a great deal of assistance from the Commission delegation in Ankara and the Turkish authorities), in a spirit of objectivity since it seemed that there had been changes in Turkey since the change in government.
    Consequently, there appears to be a need for a second explanatory statement, to supplement the statement written after the first visit, based on meetings during the second visit and events that happened in the meantime. The two statements will give Members a better understanding of the political situation in Turkey and current changes and also the numerous difficulties that remain, despite a change in political direction.
    Your rapporteur made her second visit from 12 to 14 March 1992; meetings were held at a very high level, showing that the Turkish authorities appreciated her personal initiative. Your rapporteur met the Prime Minister, Mr Demirel, the Speaker of the Grand National Assembly, the Minister of the Interior, the Minister of Justice, the Deputy Speaker of the Grand National Assembly, the co-chairman of the joint parliamentary committee for relations with the European Parliament, and the chairman of the Committee on Human Rights; overall, these represented the DYP-SHP governing coalition and the ANAP.
    Your rapporteur also met the Secretary-General of the Confederation of Progressive Trade Unions of Turkey (DISK), which was restored to official recognition after the October elections, and representatives of the Association and Foundation of Human Rights.
    Talks during the second visit largely focused on the political situation in Turkey and the implementation of the coalition protocol and government programme, which the new government had presented as the basis for establishing democracy.
    The impression that emerged from the talks was that the new government was sincere in its intention of making Turkey a constitutional democracy that respects democratic freedoms and human rights and in putting an end to the military regime that had held sway since the coup d'état of 12 September 1980. There was consensus among the politicians in power on the need for democratization and the eventual aim was revision of the 1982 constitution, which did not at provide a foundation for a democratic state.
    The new government was seen as offering Turkey an opportunity and hope for all those who wanted change. There were some very encouraging signs: the government's desire to reconcile the state and people and the way in which unions and human rights organizations were being associated with preparation of legislation.


    During your rapporteur's visit, the Ministry of Justice presented its programme for the amendment of several articles in the penal code, the law governing the legal profession, the removal of several legal provisions on the responsibilities and rights of the police, the anti-terrorist law, etc. The package of reforms also included measures to prevent torture; at the same time the police were issued with manuals showing how to treat suspects in a way that respected human rights.
    The parliamentary coalition recently reached consensus on amendment of sixty articles of the constitution (e.g. increased freedom for the press and the unions, ending of the state monopoly on broadcasting, establishment of judicial independence, etc.).
    In view of its assumption of the presidency of the Council of Europe on 8 May 1992, the Turkish Government has undertaken to waive all reservations implying a limitation of human rights expressed by Turkey when signing international treaties.
    Draft legislation allowing reconstitution of the CHP (Social Democratic Party, which was disbanded following the military intervention on 12 September 1980) has been sent to the Grand National Assembly's constitutional committee; the party should be reconstituted on 9 September, the anniversary of its foundation.
    The government's expressed wish to introduce democracy thus seems to be taking concrete form in view of the numerous bills before the Grand National Assembly, but there are still a number of problems, most of them left over from the previous regime, that have still not been removed or solved. The new government has also been criticized for not having put its promises into effect fast enough.
    Certain facts should be mentioned: the continued existence of anti-democratic forces in the army, the police and the magistracy, which do not intend to play the democratic game. The present government contains only three former ministers; civil servants are badly paid and thus open to corruption, procedures are cumbersome, etc.
    The National Security Council, which still contains members of the military and whose recommendations have to be followed by the Council of Ministers, is incompatible with constitutional democracy. Many agree with the Speaker of the Grand National Assembly's view that it should be abolished but the coalition has to obtain the two thirds majority needed for reform of the constitution.

    Torture, although condemned at the highest level, is still apparently practised, especially in the South East, where the state of emergency has had to be extended for four months. At this level, government statements have not yet been put into effect.

    Terrorism: the problem has got considerably worse in the last few months. During your rapporteur's visit there was an overwhelming mood of fear on the eve of the Kurdish New Year festival of Newroz, celebrated on 21 March.

    The tragic turn of events taken by the demonstrations are well known. The European Parliament immediately responded with a resolution in topical and urgent debate, condemning excesses by terrorist groups, the military and forces of law and order.
    The situation in South-East Anatolia has changed little since your rapporteur's first visit; the region is still under state of emergency, with all the restrictions on freedom that this implies (since the renewal of the state of emergency the HEP Members from South-East Anatolia have resigned from the SHP political group).
    The European Parliament voted in favour of lifting the state of emergency as soon as possible and introducing a general amnesty, a democratic fight against terrorism and recognition of the Kurds. This problem was taboo during your rapporteur's first visit to Turkey but is now discussed officially. The government is however showing extreme caution; it intends to grant certain rights to people of Kurdish descent: cultural rights, the right to publish books and newspapers in Kurdish and to broadcast in Kurdish, etc. These plans have of course been heavily compromised by the bloody events at the Newroz.


    The situation has barely changed since your rapporteur's first visit. The Prime Minister has however stated his wish to find a solution that respects the United Nations resolutions and stressed the importance of maintaining good relations with Greece following the meeting between the Prime Ministers of Greece and Turkey at the Davos Summit in February 1992.

Relations with the European Community

    A slight change has become perceptible since your rapporteur's first visit. Membership has not been forgotten but no longer seems to be a government obsession. Relations with Europe have to be improved, Turkey may one day be part of Europe but its main intention is to play a regional role, which will be of prime importance and which was highlighted by the French Head of State and a senior British diplomat during their recent visits to Turkey.
    The Turks deserve credit for their attitude in the conflict in Nagorno Karabakh and the country has an important role to play in relations with the new “Turkish republics”.
    Your rapporteur therefore supports the proposal to grant Turkey observer status in the Western European Union and of course supports increased political cooperation with Turkey, particularly with regard to all Mediterranean and Middle Eastern issues. There is a need, while showing full understanding of the interests of Turkey and the Community, to reinforce and regenerate relations with Turkey, which is destined to play an increasingly important, in fact a decisive, political role in this particularly sensitive region. Your rapporteur advocates that the government should be given every encouragement in putting its electoral promises into effect.



    While all political problems have unique features, it can be safely said that the Kurdish problem has more than its share.
    Any attempt to impose blueprints for a settlement, drawn for simpler situations elsewhere, are doomed to failure. For instance the doctrine of self-determination cannot be applied to the Kurds.
    To do so would require first, an agreement among the Kurds as to what questions should be submitted to them for decision and second, the consent of the Turkish, Iranian, Iraqi and perhaps Syrian and Soviet Governments to losses of sovereignty over large areas which, in the cases of Turkey and Iran have been under their flags for centuries. Moreover very large numbers of Kurds live in areas where they are themselves a minority and it is unlikely that their Arab, Turkish, Turkoman and other neighbours would welcome independence for the Kurds or government by them. In addition the areas where the Kurds are concentrated are of strategic importance and are also sources of oil and water, the control of which causes disputes between Middle Eastern countries.
    To say this is not to minimise the Kurdish problem. Kurds total between 24 to 28 million people of whom about 12 - 15 million live in Turkey, forming over a fifth of the population, about 5 million in Iraq where, before the recent exodus of refugees to neighbouring countries, they formed over a quarter of the population, 6-8 million in Iran, where they are well over a tenth of the inhabitants, one million in Syria, where they are about one twelfth of the population and about half a million scattered in several republics of the former Soviet Union. By any standards the future of the Kurds is a major problem in the Middle East. But any responsible person must avoid promoting the delusion of a settlement which can fully satisfy the wishes of those Kurds who aspire to independence. It is important to note that even after the appalling experience of Saddam Hussein's tyranny, Kurdish leaders in Iraq were still willing to negotiate with him to try to secure a degree of autonomy rather than independence.
    It is one of the paradoxes of Kurdish history that their sense of identity is one of the oldest surviving in the world, tracing its origins to the Medes, but that since the Empire of the Medes they have never formed a nation. Not only are they separated by state frontiers, both old and of this century, but they are divided in tribes, in variants of the Kurdish language and in religion, although the great majority are followers of Islam of one kind or another. All this is of course reflected in the political loyalties of the Kurds which are both ancient and modern. So the class struggle of the Marxists takes place in a feudal setting while nationalism is fragmented by a society of clans. Probably the only workable definition of a Kurd is one who believes that he or she is a Kurd or those who are believed to be Kurdish by one of their oppressors.
    It is of course the scale, brutality and persistence of their oppression which is at the origin of this report and which continues to compel the concern of the international community. A UNHCR report published on 5th December 1991, stated that as many as 200,000 Kurds had fled from their homes since early October. Of these over 140,000 had been driven out by Iraqi shelling of their villages and 60,000 had been forced out by the orders and threats of Saddam Hussein's soldiers. These are proofs of the continuing large scale and severity of this oppression.
    The Gulf War was undertaken for a variety of motives. Whatever view is taken of their validity, it cannot be denied that it amounted to a massive assumption of responsibility by external and mainly Western, powers in the affairs of Iraq in particular and of the Middle East in general. That is not necessarily fortunate for the Kurds. To appease Kemal Atatürk, the Western powers tore up the Treaty of Sevres of 1920 which had promised self-determination for the Kurds and signed the Treaty of Lausanne of 1923. This defined the boundaries of the successor states of the Ottoman Empire and conferred League of Nations mandates on France for Lebanon and Syria and on Great Britain for Mesopotamia, as Iraq was then called. Since then Kurds have been massacred in thousands.
    In Turkey Kemal Atatürk's forces killed tens, perhaps hundreds of thousands in crushing the revolt of 1925. Between 1929 and 1938, the Kurds were subjected to brutal repression. For the period 20th June to 10th December 1930, for a Turk to kill a Kurd was officially declared not to be a crime. About a million Kurds were moved by force from their homes between 1925-38.   Martial law persisted until 1946 in Kurdish parts of Anatolia. More recently under both military and democratically elected Turkish Governments, the Kurds have continued to be denied cultural expression, have been subjected to mass arrests, all too often followed by torture and, until the mid-eighties, by execution. While the emergency laws, which controlled 11 provinces in South East Turkey have been repealed, they have been replaced by a decree of a similar nature.
    In Iran the record is hardly less bloody, whether under the first Pahlevi Shah, Reza Khan, in the 1920's; following the break up of the short-lived Mahabad republic by the Iranian Government in 1946; or since the Islamic revolution of 1979. It must also be remembered that when the Iranian Government reached its unexpected agreement with the Iraqi Government at Algiers in 1975 to cut off all assistance to the Kurds, then in revolt in Iraq, Saddam Hussein was helped to reinforce his rule of terror. As a result apart from several thousand killed and wounded, some quarter of a million Kurds fled from Iraq to Iran, while within Iraq a similar number of Kurds were deported to the South.
    Iraqi Governments of varying political persuasion repeatedly repressed Kurdish revolts in a brutal manner. For example, according to a UN report, 40,000 Kurdish houses were destroyed and 300,000 people driven from their homes between 1963-70. But it was the massacres of Kurds by Saddam Hussein during the Iran-Iraq War which became notorious in the world at large. In 1983, 8,000 civilian members of the Barzani clan were arrested by the Iraqis and have never been seen since. In 1985 the bodies of children tortured by the Iraqi secret police were returned to their next of kin. In 1987 as many as half a million Kurds were deported to detention camps in the deserts of Southern and Western Iraq. Those who sought to return to their villages seem to have been executed. Three thousand villages were razed to the ground. On 17th March 1988, the Iraqi forces used poison gas against the small town of Halabja killing over 6000 men, women and children. Mass killing continued in spite of international protests and it was only after the intervention of American, British, Dutch and French forces in the spring of 1991, that it was effectively, if only temporarily, checked. It must be mentioned that the Turks, who allowed the allied intervention to be organised from their territory, had admitted thousands of Kurdish refugees in 1991, even though the great majority of those who had sought refuge in Turkey after the Halabja massacre three years earlier have remained in camps, paid for by the Turks and neglected by the rest of the world. The Iranians have admitted an even larger number of Kurdish refugees this year as well as hundreds of thousands of Shiites, adding to the burden of supporting large numbers of Afghan refugees, who fled from Soviet aggression and the subsequent civil war in their own country.
    Journalists and other visitors to Iraq since the cease fire in March 1991 have found proofs of the massive scale and appalling cruelty of Saddam Hussein's crimes against the Kurds and against other Iraqis, especially the Shiites of the South.
    It is necessary to recite this gloomy catalogue of atrocity in order to be aware of the nature of the problem. The Kurds in Turkey, Iran and, to a lesser extent, in Syria, are persecuted. In Iraq, given the past record of the Baathist regime, they are threatened with genocide. None of the Member States of the European Community can plead ignorance. Nor, given the Iraqi defeat by the American led forces of the UN and the successful moves to protect the Kurds in the spring of 1991, can they plead powerlessness.
    As was said at the beginning there is no possible policy which will resolve the problem by creating a single or several Kurdish states. But that makes it all the more necessary that the Kurds as individuals are protected.
    For the Governments of the Twelve to criticise the treatment of the Kurds by Governments in the Middle East, while refusing entry to Kurdish refugees and even deporting some who have reached the West, is to expose the European Community to charges of hypocrisy. Such a policy will also embitter those Kurds who are already settled in Member States, who number about 1/2 a million. Unfortunately, some of the European States' capacity to deal with the Kurdish problem is also handicapped by the burdens of historical responsibility. German, French and British rivalries have, for generations, bedevilled the politics of the Middle East.
    The award of the League of Nations Mandate for Iraq to the British Government directly involved the United Kingdom in Kurdish affairs.
    The desire of London to control the Mosul oil fields through its client government in Bagdad, led to the suppression of Kurdish rebellion by British forces in the 1920s. Poison gas was used. Earlier in the same decade, Paris allowed free passage to Turkish forces, bent on massacring Kurds, through French controlled territories. More recently French Governments have been much involved in the arming of the Iraqis.
    Yet, the long-standing opposition of both British and French Governments to Turkish ambitions in the Middle East, the political interference of the Anglo-Iranian oil company in the affairs of the Persians and recently, the role of Great Britain and France in the Gulf War, mean that to bitter Kurdish memories of Western conduct are added the distrust of their enemies Arab, Iranian and Turk. To this must be added the failure of successive Greek Governments to allow to the Turks of Greek Thrace the rights which Athens demands Ankara should introduce for the minorities of Anatolia. The Twelve must therefore recognise that any efforts they may make will not be regarded as disinterested by
any of the parties concerned.
    Nor should it be supposed that the Kuyrds’ own historical or contemporary record is unsullied. Kurds took part in the mass murder of Armenians during the First World War and have since persecuted the Assyrian Christians. The PKK (the Kurdish Workers Party) has been guilty of many crimes of violence against Turks. On 7th October 1991, a Reuters journalist witnessed the brutal massacre by Kurds of 60 Iraqi soldiers at Sulayminah who were unarmed prisoners. There are also Kurdish units in Saddam Hussein's army which have been used against their own people.
    But these crimes do not alter the fact that the Kurdish people as a whole are the most vulnerable and the most threatened.
    Given that demands for Kurdish independence cannot be satisfied, it would be grossly irresponsible for the Community or for its Member States to encourage that demand. It would doom the Kurds to further repression, to a struggle, often violent and bloody, which they could not win. To summarise, this is because of their proportionately small numbers, their geographical isolation, their cultural, social and political disunity and their poverty. There is also the fact that support for the Kurdish cause provokes anger among countries with which much of the world wishes to cultivate good relations because of their oil and geo-political position. In combination, these harsh circumstances oblige the friends of the Kurds and all those revolted by the prospect of more carnage to promote compromises, however difficult they may be to achieve.
    There are some grounds for hope. In Turkey concessions have been announced in the spoken use of the Kurdish language by President Özal. He abandoned the pretence that the Kurdish problem does not exist. While military repression of Kurdish PKK guerillas continued and has even been extended into Northern Iraq by Turkish air attacks, the violations of individual human rights by police and the army seem to have diminished and the carrying out of death sentences has been stopped. Unhappily the PKK in its struggle to establish an independent Marxist-Leninist state continues to terrorise the Kurds who do not support them.
    The construction of dams (the Grand Anatolian Project), which will lead to the fertilisation of much of the area where Turkish Kurds have lived for generations, while causing anxieties for Turkey's southern neighbours about their water supplies, at least shows that Ankara intends to help the economy of these areas, so discouraging further migration of the Kurds abroad or to Western Turkey. The relaxation of relations with most of the successor states of the Soviet Union, following the collapse of Communism, weakens the voice of the military and at the same time enables Turkey's allies in the Atlantic Alliance to feel freer to criticise. The wish of Turkey to cultivate good relations with the European Community, so hoping to keep their application to join alive, provides other means of pressure on Ankara to respect human rights. The willingness of the Turks to allow bases on their soil to be used for the Western intervention to save Iraqi Kurds and to allow thousands of Kurdish refugees into their territory, no doubt derived largely from this.
    But these hopes could soon be dashed. The operations of democracy in Turkey do not necessarily favour a liberal policy towards the Kurds, since both left and right wing critics of President Ozal attacked him for his relaxation of the repressive measures against the Kurds. While, in the programme of the coalition government formed from the True Path (DYP) and Social Democrat Populist (SHP) parties after the elections of October 1991, it is stated that Turkish national culture "is enriched by the differences of language, of faith, and of origin", the Kurds are not mentioned by name.
    In Iran hopes are even more slender. While Islamic fanaticism has somewhat abated and, to their credit, the Iranian Government and people proved hospitable to Kurdish refugees fleeing from Saddam Hussein's massacres, there are few signs of the democratisation without which individuals and minorities will always remain exposed to officially promoted hysteria. In fact Teheran has recently been emphasising its links with Peking which hardly augurs well for human rights. The death penalty continues to be used against anybody who can be accused of hostility to the Iranian regime.
    The Twelve have few means of influence apart from the Iranian need for investment to rebuild its war shattered economy.
    The Syrian Kurds are better protected, if only temporarily. The Syrian Government is under the eyes of the world in the Middle East Peace negotiations which began at the Madrid Conference on 30th October 1991. In these it seeks to represent itself as a defender of the oppressed, nothwithstanding its appalling human rights record of torture, terrorism and persecution of minorities. While there are no signs that the fundamental character of President Assad's regime has changed or is likely to do so, it would not suit his propaganda to indulge in persecution of the Kurds. In addition the Syrian dictator must want to maintain reasonable relations with Kurds in general so long as he remains the bitter foe of President Saddam Hussein.
    It is in Iraq that the gravest and most urgent questions are posed. It is doubtful whether Western Governments will be willing to repeat their successful intervention on behalf of the Kurds made in the Spring of 1991. The allied forces are now again all in Turkey following their withdrawal from Northern Iraq. The terms of the understanding, after which they withdrew, left wide scope for further crimes against the Kurds. The rigours of winter have driven thousands of people down into the valleys where they are much more vulnerable to attack. Saddam Hussein, having personally escaped the consequences of his defeat in
the Gulf War, once more dominates most of Iraq and his machinery of internal terror, if not that of external aggression, is unimpaired.
    If the West in general or the Twelve in particular, wish to help the Kurds they will have to have policies and the means to enforce them, to stop Saddam Hussein from renewing his policy of mass murder. The paper guarantees he may be willing to sign with Kurdish leaders in Iraq are just that, valueless, unless supported by the willingness of the West to use sanctions to enforce them.
    Led by the United States, most of the Member States of the EC proved willing to support action against the invader of Kuwait. Will "the duty to intervene" proclaimed by Mr Dumas, include the protection of the Kurds of Iraq from the risk of genocide, not only in the Spring of 1991 when their plight was first exposed on the television sets of the Western world, but for the indefinite future?