May 26, 2007
Turkish Daily News
Turkish reaction to PACE report 'normal'
Turkish reactions to a draft report by the Human Rights Commission of the Parliamentary Assembly of Council of Europe (PACE) were normal, Swiss rapporteur Andreas Gross said on Friday. «That is not a report right now but just an outline and the reactions were normal but it is not yet something to discuss in public,» Gross told the Turkish Daily News in a telephone interview from Germany.
The draft focuses on the situation of the Greek minority on the two Turkish islands of Gökçeada and Bozcaada (Imvros and Tenedos), as well as land and property problems faced by the minority. The Swiss rapporteur however, declined to elaborate on the content of the report and only said it was currently in the phase of being drafted.
«I was in Turkey last week and I'll come again in July and also in September,» he added. The report will first be discussed in the PACE commission and later in the plenary next year.
Last week, Turkey leveled criticism at the PACE draft, with Murat Mercan, head of the Turkish delegation in PACE, saying that the document was not impartial and that it had serious shortcomings. He emphasized that the Turkish side would work hard during the commission's meetings and the General Assembly sessions for the report to be balanced.
The islands of Gökçeada and Bozcaada remained within Turkish territory under the Lausanne Treaty of 1923, the founding treaty of the republic. Greece claims the number of the Greek minority community there dramatically dropped to around 500 today from around 9,000 in 1960 on both islands and also argues that the minority experiences substantial problems with regard to education, land and property.
Earlier this year, European Union Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn said the 27-nation bloc was closely following the rights of the Greek minority in Turkey, demanding that Ankara safeguard their legal rights.