Akin Birdal in Athens

Akin Birdal, vice-president of the FIDH, who was shot and seriously wounded in 1998 for his activist action, addressed on Monday in Athens to a conference entitled “Greece-Turkey-Europe: Human Rights”, organized by The Hellenic League of Human Rights. also participated in the conference Yavuz Onen, current president of the Turkish League, Nikos Alivizatos, president of the Hellenic League and Yannis Ktistakis, treasurer of the League.

The European Union was the focus of criticism by the Turkey΄s leading human rights activist, who stressed that the EU granted the status of candidate country to Turkey, because of its important geopolitical position in the region and despite the fact that Turkey did not actually move toward democratization, in the direction of the Copenhagen criteria. Noting that the EU is a simple viewer to the situation of human rights in Turkey for reasons of political and economic expediency, he stressed that Turkey instead of implementing all its commitments, it haggles continually having the tolerance of the Europeans. Taking this into consideration, he concluded that the EU does not really want Turkey to become one of its equal members and Turkey΄s political leadership does not honestly wish to see Turkey΄s European course being successful, notwithstanding the fact that the Turkish people are in favorite of the European orientation and evolution of the country.

Birdal also stressed that the recent improvement in the relations between Greece and Turkey is indisputably satisfactory. However, he criticized the statement of Foreign Minister, Mr. Papandreou that Turkey follows the right direction for the improvement of the human rights protection, saying that it does not correspond to the existent situation.

Birdal, presenting the situation of human rights in Turkey, he made reference to the existence of 10.000 political prisoners, as well as to the wrong approach of the Europeans concerning the “white cells” and their silence when 32 prisoners died in the operation of the Turkish authorities entitled “Return to Life”. Birdal also criticized the Turkish legislation noting that Turkey has enacted an important number of laws and governmental decisions against free speech resulting that anyone can be convicted for expressing different views to those officially accepted.

The current Turkey΄s Human Rights League President, Yavuz Onen also addressed the conference, emphasizing the low standard of human rights protection in Turkey. N. Alivizatos, president of the Hellenic League, stressed in the conference that Greece should criticize the human rights status in Turkey, having the honesty to make parallel criticism to itself in order to gain the appropriate credibility. Yannis Ktistakis presented the current decisions of the European Court of Human Rights concerning the two countries and focusing on the evolution of the Court in its jurisprudence.

Our League, starting with this conference, which was enormously publicized in the Greek media, wishes to inaugurate further links with our Turkish partners within FIDH by carrying out more projects together within close future. 
Rights and freedoms respect is exclusive presupposition for the sustainability of the latest convergence between the leaderships of the two countries. It is not a mean of political pressure to the opposite side in the name of solidarity to the ?enemy?s enemy?.

For the Board of HLHR,

Pr. Nikos K. Alivizatos

Dr Dimitris G. Christopoulos
Secretary General 



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