European Parliament Resolution Calls on Turkey to Protect Cultural Heritage and Have Good Neighborly Relations with Armenia

(ARMENIAN WEEKLY) BRUSSELS, Belgium—The European Armenian Federation for Justice and Democracy (EAFJD) welcomed today’s vote in the European Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee on the draft report on the 2016 Commission Report on Turkey.

“Today’s vote didn’t come as a surprise to us, and we are glad to see that the Foreign Affairs Committee is united in defending Universal Human Rights values in Turkey and condemning Turkish President Erdogan’s destructive policies, both domestically and internationally,” EAFJD President Kaspar Karampetian told the Armenian Weekly. “It’s the right thing to do to call for the halt of EU accession talks, should Erdogan acquire more powers with the proposed constitutional changes,” Karampetian added.

Committee MEPs harshly condemned Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his autocratic regime, which has polarized the Turkish society and alienated neighbors and allies. The main message to Erdogan and the ruling Justice and Development Party of Turkey (AKP) was that Turkey’s EU accession talks should be suspended if the proposed changes to the constitution go ahead.

The resolution on Turkey was adopted by 51 votes to three, with 14 abstentions. The full House is scheduled to vote on it during the next plenary session in Strasbourg in July.

One of the amendments calls on the Turkish government to respect and fully implement the legal obligations, which it has undertaken relating to the protection of cultural heritage, and in particular to conduct in good faith an integrated inventory of Greek, Armenian, Assyrian, and other cultural heritage that was destroyed or ruined during the last century.

It also calls on Turkey to ratify the 2005 UNESCO Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions and to cooperate with relevant international organizations, especially the Council of Europe, in preventing and combating illicit trafficking and the deliberate destruction of cultural heritage.

Another amendment calls on Turkey and Armenia to work on the normalization of their relations and stresses that the opening of the Turkish-Armenian border could lead to improved relations, with particular reference to cross-border cooperation and economic integration.

“We are also glad to see that amendments calling on Turkey to have good neighborly relations with its immediate surrounding countries and open its closed borders, as well as to respect and fully implement the legal obligations which it has undertaken relating to the protection of minorities’ cultural heritage, and particularly the inclusion in the references to the Armenian Genocide centenary resolution of April 2015″ added Karampetian. The EAFDJ President also noted that the organizations is looking forward to seeing the resolution adopted in July, with the same spirit that was discussed in the Foreign Affairs Committee”.