Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - EC Membership Application by Turkey.

19.

asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs if he will outline the Government's attitude to any possible application for membership of the EC by Turkey, especially in light of evidence of continuing serious human rights abuses in that country; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

The Turkish Government formally applied for membership of the European Community on 14 April 1987. The Foreign Affairs Council, at its meeting on 27 April 1987, decided to refer the application to the Commission for its opinion in accordance with the terms of the EC Treaty. The Commission is currently considering the matter. In accordance with the Single European Act, the assent of the European Parliament is also required before the Council pronounces on the application. It would not be appropriate for the Government to express an opinion about it at this stage.

It is clear from our contacts with the Turkish authorities that they understand that a continuation of reports that human rights are being violated would be contrary to their interests, especially in the context of Turkey's application for EC membership.

In view of the earlier statement of the Minister of State concerning the principles governing an application of a state for membership of the EC that it must be democratic and respect human rights, will the Minister of State agree that the Turkish state at present is not eligible for membership of the Community? Will the Government undertake to investigate conditions in Turkey with regard to human rights before they decide on their attitude to the application of that country for membership of the Community?

It is not for the Irish Government to comment on the possible accession of a country to the Community. The Turkish Government are fully aware of their international implications of reports of continuing human rights violations in their country. They have taken steps to rebut some of the reports by Amnesty International. However, we would like to encourage them to continue the improvements that have taken place in recent years. Member states have made it clear on many occasions, as the Deputy will be aware, the importance they attach to questions of human rights.

I should like to ask the Minister of State to make a clear statement of intent with regard to the Turkish application. Will the Government satisfy themselves in regard to human rights in Turkey before they support the application of that country for membership of the Community? Will the Minister of State indicate the steps the Government have taken to satisfy themselves as to the progress in Turkey rather than accepting reports from officials of the Turkish Government? The Minister of State must realise that the Turkish authorities are engaged in torture and denial of human rights.

Human rights in Turkey should be respected irrespective of an application for membership of the Community. The points raised by the Deputy will be taken into account but I must repeat that it is not for the Government to intervene or indicate their feelings on an application until such time as the formalities are completed such as approval by the parliament and so on. It will then be a matter for the Council of Ministers.