Schroeder highlights humanrights during Turkey visit

4th May 2005, Comments 0 comments

4 May 2005, ANKARA - Turkey must continue to implement human rights reforms ahead of European Union membership negotiations due to begin in October, German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder said on Wednesday.

4 May 2005

ANKARA - Turkey must continue to implement human rights reforms ahead of European Union membership negotiations due to begin in October, German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder said on Wednesday.

In Turkey for a two-day official visit, Schroeder told Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan that the reforms already passed by Turkey were important, but that proper implementation was necessary.

He said that changes to the law to give religious minorities further rights were a good step, but that the reforms must go further.

Erdogan said, however, that there had been no direct request from Schroeder to allow the reopening of a Greek Orthodox seminary on the Marmara Sea island of Heybeliada, which has been closed since 1971 when all private tertiary institutions were outlawed.

Speaking at a press conference with Erdogan, Schroeder tried to allay fears in Turkey that failure to ratify the EU constitution would mean Turkey being left outside the union. The treaty is viewed as essential for an expanded EU.

Schroeder said he supported a Turkish proposal for a joint meeting of historians to discuss whether the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Armenians during World War One constituted genocide.

Turkey historically has denied genocide took place and the issue has threatened to hurt Turkey's EU membership chances.

Speaking later at Marmara University in Istanbul where he received an honorary doctorate, Schroeder said Turkey could learn from Germany's own experience.

In coming to terms with what it did during World War Two, it had contributed to peace in Europe. The once hated enemies, France and Germany, were now close friends.

The German chancellor also met Turkish President Ahmet Necdet Sezer in Ankara and the spiritual leader of the Greek Orthodox Church, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I, and attended a Turkish- German Economic Forum.

DPA

Subject: German news

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