International Initiative
Freedom for Ocalan – Peace in Kurdistan
P.O. Box 100511, D-50445 Koeln

Meeting of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, Tuesday 16 March 2004-03-12
Draft Report on Turkey by Arie M. Oostlander

Open Letter to the Members of the Foreign Communittee of the European Parliament

Cologne, 16 March 2004

Dear Member of the Committee,

Hitherto, neither the European Parliament nor the European Commission nor the European Council have been able to call the Kurdish question in Turkey Kurdish question. Instead, also in the new draft report this issue comes once again only implicitly under the header of minority issues. We would like to take the opportunity of the imminent discussion of the draft to comment on some contentious points particularly in the light of the forthcoming decision in December on the beginning of accession talks with Turkey.

We are convinced that a change of behaviour on the part of Turkey in terms of respecting the Kurds as an ethnic and cultural entity cannot possibly be accomplished as far as our experience goes if this group is not explicitly mentioned in these documents of the Union.

The general demand for minority protection compatible with present EU standards, which has been employed instead in the previous reports, falls short. At this point Turkey always refers to the Lausanne Treaty, which does not mention the Kurds as a minority. In other words, what is required here is the constitutional establishment of the Kurds as a national minority in Turkey in order to guarantee them the same rights that other national minorities in the Union have been enjoying for a long time.

It is not enough at this point to demand a non-minimalist interpretation of the Lausanne Treaty. Ever since it was signed this treaty has never been interpreted as relating to the Kurds but only to the Christian minorities in Turkey. A different interpretation would in principle amount to a revision of Lausanne concerning the status of the Kurdish people in Turkey. Turkey has always dismissed this.
We believe it is mandatory, therefore, that the Turkish constitution be amended accordingly in order to guarantee the rights of the Kurdish ethnic group while bringing minority rights in Turkey up to the standards of the Union.
We call on the members of the Committee on Foreign Affairs to include formulations in their report that both mention the Kurdish people by name and make it also perfectly clear which constitutional amendments, therefore, are to be implemented by Turkey.


Art. 38 to 45 of the Lausanne Treaty guarantees the "rights of the Minorities". Ismet Pascha Inonu, prime minister and head of the Turkish delegation in Lausanne announced during the conference on January 23, 1923:
"The government of the Grand National Assembly of Turkey is the government of the Kurds as well as of the Turks because the true and legitimate representatives of the Kurds have their seats in the National Assembly and take part with equal rights like the representatives of the Turks in the government and administration of the country."
(French Foreign Ministry, Documents diplomatiques: Conférence de Lausanne", Paris 1923, pp.283, 284)