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Ian Hudghton
Scottish National Party
Member of the European Parliament

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Press Releases
5 October
SNP/Plaid on Turkish EU Membership

Commenting ahead of tomorrow's (Wednesday) landmark report on Turkish EU membership, Scottish National Party and Plaid Cymru Euro-MPs have expressed dismay at reports that the European Commission is set to open the door for Turkey without first demanding hard evidence of progress on the country's human rights record, and in particular its treatment of the Kurdish people.

Speaking from Brussels, Ian Hudghton MEP (SNP) said:

"We take the view that eventual Turkish membership of the EU would be good for Turkey and for Europe - but there must be strict conditions attached, particularly in relation to human rights and the Turkish regime's treatment of the Kurdish minority. That's why it's with some dismay that many of us view the reports about the Commission opening the door for Turkish membership with tomorrow's report.

Whilst I welcome, up to a point, reports of a mechanism for slowing up or even halting the negotiations if Turkey fails to make progress on human rights, this falls well short of what we would have hoped for. This is putting the cart before the horse - saying to Turkey we'll start negotiations but we still expect you to make progress on human rights is the wrong approach. Real progress on human rights must come first before talks on joining the EU can follow, not the other way round."

Jill Evans MEP (Plaid Cymru) commented:

"Throughout this process we've voiced our concerns that not enough progress is being made in improving the human rights situation in Turkey, in particular the treatment of the Kurdish people.

It remains the case that the linguistic, political and cultural rights of the Kurdish people do not get the recognition they deserve from the Turkish regime. Indeed it's reported that around 40% of the Kurdish population in Turkey cannot read or write - the legacy of an education system that doesn't recognise the Kurdish language. Can we really start accession negotiations against this backdrop?"

Alyn Smith MEP (SNP) said:

"Europe's heads of government will make the final decision on this when they meet for their December summit. Between now and then we need to see intensive lobbying so that Turkey isn't handed a blank cheque for EU membership.

We'd welcome Turkey's eventual accession to the EU, but not before it has made and has been seen to have made real progress on human rights. Any early start to negotiations would be premature in the extreme."

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