Analysis of the Armenian Problem Through Turkey-Europe Progress Reports

The “Armenian Problem” or “Armenian Claims about the 1915 Events” has a place as an important phenomenon not 1987 onwards, unlike widely known, but since 1 December 1964 which was the legal beginning of the relations of Turkey with the European Communities (EC) and therefore with European Union (EU).

Following the ‘joint membership’ application to the European Economic Community (EEC) on 31 July 1959, the ‘Partnership Agreement’ was signed between Turkey and EEC and “Armenian Claims about 1915 Events” were brought to the agenda again with the leadership of the Armenian Church in the process of the entry into force of this agreement.

The effect of the “Armenian Claims about the 1915 Events” which is occasionally brought into the foreground and occasionally forgotten with the influence of various factors in Turkey-EU/EC relations of a history of more than fifty years can be analysed under these three titles.

  1. The decisions of the EU/EC Organs about the “Armenian Claims about the 1915 Events;”
  2. The developments brought onto the agenda within the scope of the “Armenian Claims about the 1915 Events” in the EU Progress Reports published every year after the full membership process of Turkey;
  3. The decisions taken in some judgmental organs as per the internal law and in the national parliaments/assemblies of EU member countries.

Of these three titles within the context of study, only the part “Turkey-EU relations within the context of the EU Progress Reports” has been analysed. However, it should be emphasized that the information about the relevant issues are mostly summarized and questioned in general terms as this study is in a form of an academic article.

Within the framework of reason stated above, these 2 questions have been analysed in the study about the 16 Progress Reports published between the years 1998-2014:

  1. Do the points about Turkey-Armenia relations in the Progress Reports constitute continuity? Or, are cyclical changes experienced?
  2. Can solid positive steps by Turkey in the problems in Turkey-Armenia relations emphasized in the Progress Reports speed up the process of Turkey’s full membership in EU?

As is known, the Progress Reports published every year since 1998 analyse the developments in Turkey-EU relations and in a way take a photo of the membership process of Turkey. Turkey-Armenia relations are handled under these 13 titles and subheadings[1] in the total 16 EU Progress Reports published in the period until 2014.

  • Cooperation in Justice and Internal Affairs (2001, 2001)
  • Minority Rights (Cultural Rights) and Protection of Minorities (1998, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2010, 2012, 2013).
  • Information Society and Media (2010)
  • Foreign Relations (2006)
  • Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (2000, 2001, 2002)
  • General Assessments (2003, 2004, 2005)
  • Audio Visual Politics (2009)
  • Civil and Political Rights: Freedom of Religion (2000, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2009, 2011)
  • Civil and Political Rights: Freedom of Expression (2005, 2008, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013)
  • (Including Media) Freedom of Expression (2006, 2007, 2009, 2010, 2012, 2013)
  • Property Rights (2007, 2009, 2012, 2013)
  • Joint Foreign Affairs and Security (Defence) Politics (2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013)
  • Freedom of Assembly (2011, 2012)
  • Justice System (2009)

As also understood from the detections we made above, it is impossible to claim that there is continuity in each title through the years in Turkey-Armenia relations examined by relevant reporters of the EU within different main and sub-headings. For example under the titles “Information Society and Media” (2010), “Foreign Relations” (2006), “Freedom of Assembly” (2011), “Justice System” (2009), “Audio Visual Politics” (2009), only once Turkey-Armenia relations are made a subject. Under the title “Joint Foreign Affairs and Security (Defence) Politics,” on the other hand, Turkey-Armenia relations have been brought to the agenda every year except for the year 2004.

Within the 13 main and sub-headings that we detected, these 9 issues are coming to the foreground in the reports:

  1. “Minority Rights;
  2. Religious Freedom;
  3. Use of Language;
  4. Foreign Relations and Closed Borders;
  5. Communication and Education;
  6. History Books;
  7. Human Smuggling;
  8. Owning Property;
  9. Freedom of Expression.”

However, it is seen that these issues that we detected are not regularly included in the reports every year and some issues are mentioned cyclically and periodically. If we are to state it with the aid of a table:

YEAR Minority Rights Religious Freedom Use of Language Foreign Relations
Closed Border
Communication and Education History Books Human Smuggling Owning Property Freedom of Expression
1998 +
1999 Indirect –
2000 + + +
2001 +
2002 + – + – – –
2003 + – – + + –
2004 – – + – + + – X+ – –
2005 U.A.H. Not Applicable – – – + Cyclical. + Media + –

School –

– + – – Article 301 –O. PAMUK

H. DİNK

2006 Stable +- Article 301 – –
2007 Stable + – + – + – + – + – H. DİNK —
2008 + Article 301 + –
2009 – – – – + – – +  – Armenian Press + Sarı Gelin+ – + + – – –
2010 Restrictive – + – + Protocols + – – –
2011 Restrictive + + – Protocols – – ++ + + – –
2012 ++ — + – + Protocols + ++ H. DİNK++-
2013 + – Protocols + + + + – H. DİNK++-Article 301 +

As it is understood from the data given in the table as well, continuity, though partial, has been detected in the points included in the reports within the context of the question “Do the points about Turkey-Armenia relations in the Progress Reports constitute continuity? Or, are cyclical changes experienced?”. However, it has been seen that the analysis depths of the issues handled were influenced by the developments in an internal and external conjuncture.

When the second analysis question “Can solid positive steps by Turkey in the problems in Turkey-Armenia relations emphasized in the Progress Reports speed up the process of Turkey’s full membership in EU?” is considered within the Copenhagen (political, economic, legal) Criteria, this question can be answered “YES.” However, it should not be forgotten that different criteria and other organs apart from the EU Commission and voting processes are also influential in the process of full membership into the EU.

It is seen that the EU Commission doesn’t have a one-sided attitude, unlike the European Parliament. The fact that EU Commission is an organ responsible for conducting negotiations and Turkey is wanted to be kept in the membership process can be interpreted as a reason for this situation.

Explanations

[1] Although the names of the titles we pointed out occasionally changed, the contents mostly remained the same. For example, the title “Minority Rights and Protection of Minorities” used in 1998 became “Minority Rights, Cultural Rights, and Protection of Minorities” in 2004.

Bibliography

ÖZDAL Barış, “Avrupa Birliği İlerleme Raporları Bağlamında Türkiye-Ermenistan İlişkilerinin Analizi”, I. Uluslararası Türk-Ermeni İlişkileri ve Büyük Güçler Sempozyumu, Atatürk Üniversitesi Türk-Ermeni İlişkileri Araştırma Merkezi Erzurum/Türkiye 2-4 Mayıs 2012 Erzurum: Atatürk Üniversitesi Yayınları No. 1033, 2014, p. 113-124.

ÖZDAL Barış, “Avrupa Birliği, Türkiye – Ermenistan İlişkilerini Nasıl Okuyor? –İlerleme Raporları İtibarıyla Genel Bir Analiz”, Yeni Türkiye Ermeni Meselesi Özel Sayısı, Book V, September-December 2014, Year 20, Vol. 64, p. 3843–3852.

Notes

This article has been written by updating the data in this work published before: Özdal, September-December 2014, p. 3843–3852; Özdal, 2014, p. 113-124.

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