An Open Letter to the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Chief EU Negotiator Mr. Ali Babacan
An Open Letter to the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Chief EU Negotiator Mr. Ali Babacan: What do you understand by “Civil Society’s Contribution”?
On 1st September 2008 the Government sent its draft National Programme for the Adoption of the Acquis Communautaire to 84 civil society organisations, including the HRFTHuman Rights Foundation of Turkey , and asked them to submit their evaluation and opinion within 15 days.
This 410 page long National Programme covers the next four years of the accession negotiations and foresees changes in over 100 laws and 300 regulations. Our Foundation evaluated the chapters dealing with human rights issues and submitted its opinion to Mr. Ali Babacan, other concerned governmental institutions and the public on 15th September 2008.
Additionally, on 24th October 2008 our President Mr. Yavuz Önen had the chance to discuss and exchange views with the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Chief EU Negotiator Mr. Ali Babacan and other NGOs at a meeting held especially to discuss this draft National Programme. After his public speech the Minister asked the members of press to leave the room, thus preventing that the press could fully inform the public on the NGOs’ views as well as the meeting between them and the Minister; a meeting with many valuable and important contributions from the civil society’s side.
Despite this exchange of views the report that was approved by the President of the Republic Mr. Abdullah Gül on 30th December 2008 and subsequently presented to the public as the 3rd National Programme did not, where human rights issues are concerned, vary at all from the initial draft programme; not one word had been changed. It makes us sad to realise that none of our concerns about the draft programme has been attended to.
On page 2 of the 3rd National Programme it is stated that “the civil society’s contribution during the accession process is very important. Therefore, NGOs will be informed on the outcomes of the screening meetings. Additionally, NGOs will be consulted during the drafting of the negotiation positions for the different negotiation chapters”. It is true that the Government consulted the NGOs. But apparently it did not consider at all their concerns which raises the question what exactly the “very important” “civil society’s contribution during the accession process” is? In other words, it becomes clear that the Government which by its own account works to realise more direct democracy (National Programme p. 1) has, despite our well-meant efforts, used the NGOs once again to save its public image.
In the light of these recent developments our Evaluation Report on the Draft 3rd National Programme is still as important and up to date as before.
You can download the report: http://www.tihv.org.tr/tihve/images/stories/Evaluation_of_the_National_Programme-final.pdf
President of the Human Rights Foundation of Turkey