Saturday, September 20, 2008

Is Turkey fit for EU membership?

From Lord Avebury

September 20, 2008

Dear Mr Rehn

In the Enlargement Commission’s 2007 Report on Turkey’s progress towards accession {COM(2007) 663 final, November 6, 2007}, there were as usual a number of references to the restrictions on freedom of expression, particularly on Armenian and Kurdish issues.

Yesterday it was reported in The Guardian that a new field of comment has been closed. ( A Turkish court has ruled that access to Professor Richard Dawkins’ website is banned, and that this is the latest of many such blockings imposed by the courts.

As you know, next year is the bicentenary of Darwin's birth, and when the whole world is about to celebrate Darwin and his discovery of the theory of evolution, it is particularly incongruous that the people of a state that is hoping to join the EU should be denied access to a website that promotes Darwin, and robustly counters the absurd fantasies of a Turkish creationist.

I certainly hope you will ensure that in this year’s report on Turkey’s progress it will be made clear that the law denying freedom of expression, including access to the internet, is one of the main barriers to their attainment of European standards. You mention freedom of expression en passant in your Milliyet article of August 28 on revitalising Turkey’s progress, but it needs to be spelled out in detail. You need to say in particular, I respectfully suggest, that the banning of internet sites that are lawful throughout the EU is unacceptable.

Mr Olli Rehn,
Commissioner for Enlargement,
Rue de la Loi 200, 1040 Brussels

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