Dáil Éireann - Volume 387 - 21 February, 1989

Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Human Rights Violations in Turkey.

4. Mr. M. Higgins asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs if he will outline his response to the statement issued by the Embassy of the Republic of Turkey on 19 January 1989 which was circulated to Members of the Houses of the Oireachtas as a summary of points made by the Under Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Turkey (details supplied) to Ambassadors of EC countries accredited in Turkey; and if he will make a statement on the very serious allegations against Amnesty International contained in the statement; and if he considers involvement on the human rights situation in Turkey as a necessary precondition for consideration of the application by Turkey for membership of the EC.

Mr. Lenihan: I am aware of the statement to which the Deputy refers and of the Amnesty International reports on which the official of the Turkish Foreign Ministry was commenting. I note that the statement repeats previous assurances of the Turkish Government that it is their policy to implement western standards in [805] the human rights field and I welcome this. I would add, however, that in our view Amnesty International is a widely respected organisation and we believe that its reports should be treated accordingly.

We and our partners in the European Community give close attention to the human rights situation in Turkey and the authorities there are well aware of this. We expect them to live up to the commitments they have freely accepted under international legal instruments of the United Nations and the Council of Europe. The Turkish Government realise that continuing reports of human rights violations are contrary to Turkey's interests, expecially in the context of its application for membership of the European Community.

Mr. M. Higgins: Arising from the Minister's reply for which I am grateful, may I ask him if he noted in particular the suggestion by the Turkish Government and their ambassador that Amnesty International was being manipulated by circles who were opposing entry? May I further ask the Minister if he is concerned that between 1984 and 1988 in Turkey, 2,127 journalises were tried before 1,400 courts? May I finally ask him, in view of correspondence I have had with his Department in the past — I covered a military tribunal in 1983 where there were 259 death sentences — if he is concerned that Turkey is proceeding with its application to the European Community while at the same time there are 700 prisoners currently under sentence of death and 5,300 before military tribunals?

An Ceann Comhairle: I am sorry to interrupt the Deputy and the House but I am constrained by the time factor involved in dealing with priority questions, the House will be aware of that.

Mr. Lenihan: There is one point which should be answered and is contained in the last sentence of my reply. The Turkish Government realise that continuing reports of human rights violations are [806] contrary to Turkey's interests, especially in the context of its application for membership of the European Community. That is very clear and indicative and makes quite plain what I mean.

An Ceann Comhairle: No. 5, please.

Mr. M. Higgins: I wish to ask one question.

An Ceann Comhairle: It will have to be a very brief question, Deputy. There are two more Questions nominated for priority to be dealt with.

Mr. M. Higgins: I have one priority question and I have asked one supplementary.

An Ceann Comhairle: You have had a series of questions, Deputy.

Mr. M. Higgins: In respect of which I got a very short answer. I wish to ask a simple question. Will the matters I referred to — in the Irish attitude to the Turkish application — be required to be rectified before Ireland will support Turkey's application, yes or no?

Mr. Lenihan: I have answered that already in the reply I gave and I do not want to waste the time of the House by repeating it.

Mr. M. Higgins: You have answered it from the perspective of Turkey. I am asking it from the perspective of our Foreign Minister.

An Ceann Comhairle: No. 5, please.

Mr. Lenihan: It is quite clear that continuing reports of human rights violations are not helpful to Turkey's interests in their application for membership of the Community.

Mr. M. Higgins: Is that our attitude.

Mr. Lenihan: That is our attitude of course. I am replying as Minister for Foreign Affairs for the Republic of Ireland. [807] That is our attitude and that is the attitude of the Community. I cannot put it any plainer.

Mr. M. Higgins: It is an unusually sophisticated obliqueness.