Communist Party of Turkey, Speech at European Paliament

Hasan Ilkates hasan_ilkates at
Sat Nov 8 11:17:21 MST 2003

Here is the speech of the General Secretary of TKP, Kemal Okuyan, made at
the European Parliament, where he was invited by the left group of the
parliament on 21 October in order to talk about the democracy and human
rights in Turkey:

Dear Comrades,
When one mentions human rights violations in Turkey, many embarrassing facts
can be encountered. We could enumerate these shameful realities and
complain. However, what we are supposed to do is to find the real source of
these facts and examine them.
We have to say, from the very beginning that no serious positive change has
been recorded concerning the liberties of labourer classes in Turkey during
the process called “European Union reforms”, namely in these last three
years characterized by the candidacy of Turkey to the EU. On the contrary,
as we will see later on, things are getting worse in Turkey for working
What do we mean by “freedom”? I think the title “freedom” in Turkey may be
taken up in four subtitles.
The first subtitle is the freedom to organize. If I call it “the freedom to
organize”, it is intentional because from time to time this topic is being
squeezed in a quite unmeaningful field so-called “freedom of thought”. What
we are concerned with is the removal of the obstacles against the
organization of thoughts. In this respect, no improvement has been
enregistered except some superficial legal modifications. Today I am not to
mention the particular case of the Communist Party of Turkey. The trial to
close our party is still going on, but we know that we have proceeded well
in the struggle of legitimacy and gained good positions. Now, these
positions are unconnected with the EU process. The more you resist and
struggle the more freedom you obtain. Nevertheless, I could declare you what
sort of pression and obstruction we have been exposed to so far, just like
the other speakers did, referring to some tragic but ironic examples.
Yet if you were to ask about the effects of the EU process, I could tell you
about the disobeying of the most basical rights of the worker class: rights
of labour union membership. We have to remind you that one of the most
important titles of the reform packets under the name of orientation with EU
has been the Working Code. After years of systematic efforts for the
destruction of the unions, with this law, organizational possibilities of
the working class has been truly restricted. I ask now, what does a
democratization process mean where the organizational possibilites of the
working class is limited? In this process of membership to the EU, we have,
as a result, less than 1 million union member workers out of a national
population of 70 million.
If we are to mention liberties, it is imperative to touch on the freedom to
live humanely. That is the second subtitle. EU reforms have increased the
unemployment and hunger. It is weird to mention democracy and liberty in a
country where unemployment and hunger run wild. We have come here to discuss
the effects of the EU on the human rights and the democracy in Turkey. In
the economics section of the Accession Partnership put forward to Turkey, it
is written “the EU expects Turkey to apply perfectly the IMF reforms.” What
sort of freedom can be evoked through IMF? The EU has ordered “Accelerate
the privatizations, lessen public spendings, restructure the agriculture.”
Today, the level of unemployment is raising. According to some surveys, it
has exceeded 14 million. Turkey is in a unproductive situation, with its
agriculture being destructed. This is the effect of the EU on one of the
basic liberty fields. We cannot discuss democracy nor human rights without
taking into account this situation.
Another title is the militarist policies of the Turkish capitalism.
Recently, the prime minister Erdogan has praised the country for having
troops present in 26 countries. If we add military educational activities to
this, the foreign soldier existence of Turkey would increase even more. When
mentioning Turkey’s militarist policies, it is impossible not to mention its
membership to NATO or its relations with imperialist countries. Without
questioning these facts, you cannot change the militarist structure of
Turkey. In this respect, we see that the AKP government is trying to
hoodwink the people. It is is said that military intervention to politics is
reduced. Yes, it certainly is an important issue. However, we ought to be
careful in this important issue. A fascist is a fascist, whether civilian or
in uniforms. It is absurd to reduce the freedom and human rights issue in
Turkey to “decreasement of the military weight”. Today the AKP follows a
liberal-fascist policy. It is a major fault to think that this policy would
broaden the field of freedoms. The Erdogan government is the most pro-US and
pro-EU government of our history. It is but the capitalist class and
imperialists to think that this government would bring Turkey democracy or
Finally, we confront the Kurdish issue as a highly important problem. We
have to ask what sort of improvement have brought the EU reforms in the
Kurdish question. Does the Kurdish question only consist of cultural rights
and language freedom? The proportion of Kurds in the unemployed millions
that I just mentioned is not at all little. Of what liberties will we talk
about in a country where hunger and unemployment run wild? We do not think
we could record any improvement regarding the situation of Kurdish working
people in the last 3 years.
Consequently, these four titles must be dealt with altogether. One of these
titles is never more important than any other. The solution to all of these
questions will be brought by an intervention into the real source of
In this respect, TKP is strictly against the membership to the EU.
Concerning the titles we take up here, we consider that the EU is not
beneficial but harmful. As an imperialist project, the EU would not bring
freedom to Turkish and Kurdish peoples. This does not mean that we do not
have friends in Europe. Of course we do. Some of them are here. However,
what we ask from them is not controlling whether the EU accomplishes its
committments but contributing to the solidarity with Turkish and Kurdish
working people and helping to our struggle to stand outside the union.
Thank you.

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