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Turkey: Minister Criticizes European Parliament For Cutting Aid

Strasbourg, 20 September 1996 (RFE/RL) -- Ankara criticized yesterday's European Parliament decision to freeze most EU aid to Turkey because of the country's human rights record.

Turkish Foreign Minister Tansu Ciller complained that the decision expresses what she called "a completely biased point of view." She said Turkey has made serious progress on human rights in the past two years , and that Ankara would not act according to what she described as "Europe's biased ideas."

In a resolution passed by a large majority, the parliament said that Turkey's human-rights violations, its recent behavior in Cyprus and toward Kurds were all reasons for the freeze.

The resolution says that there has been no progress toward democratization in Turkey and that human rights have deteriorated since the establishment of an EU-Turkish Customs Union last year.

The freeze affects almost $500 million pledged to Turkey during the next five years under the Customs Union agreement.

Since 1993, the European Parliament has had the power to control the disbursement of so-called optional EU funds --those decided on voluntarily by the union and not imposed on it by its founding treaties. That means that the vote will immediately trigger the cut-off of most EU funds to Turkey.