| European Parliament to host Kurdish conference |
| A conference on the European Union, Turkey and the Kurds will begin today in Belgium with the participation of high-level diplomats and Nobel Prize winners. |
| The two-day international conference focusing on the EU, Turkey and the Kurdish issue will be held in Brussels, hosted by the European Parliament in memory of prominent Kurdish novelist Mehmed Uzun, who lost his life in October after a lengthy battle with stomach cancer. |
Participants in the conference will include Nobel Peace Prize laureate Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu; Nobel Peace Prize laureate Dr. Shirin Ebadi; Nobel Prize in Literature laureate Harold Pinter; Bianca Jagger, Council of Europe goodwill ambassador and chairman of the World Future Council; writer Noam Chomsky; writer Yaşar Kemal; and leading Kurdish politician Leyla Zana.
Today's conference is the fourth of such conferences arranged by the EU-Turkey Civic Commission (EUTCC) in cooperation with the Rafto Foundation of Norway, UK-based Kurdish Human Rights Project and Germany-based Medico International. The first such conference was held in November 2004.
The keynote speeches at today's gathering will be delivered by European Parliament President Hans-Gert Poettering, Zana, Jagger and Frances Wurtz, a French leftist member of the European Parliament.
Joost Lagendijk, co-chair of the EU-Turkey Joint Parliamentary Committee, Akın Özçer, former Turkish diplomat, and Ahmet Türk, the former head of the pro-Kurdish Democratic Society Party (DTP), are among those who will discuss during the conference whether Turkey would be able to enter the EU without resolving the Kurdish issue. The conference is expected to end after a final statement is released on Tuesday.
Late last month, after the chief prosecutor of the Supreme Court of Appeals opened a court case against the DTP at the Constitutional Court by claiming that it is in conflict with the independence of the state and the indivisible integrity of its territory and nation, the EUTCC urged the Turkish government "to curb judicial attempts to derail the democratic and peaceful exercise of the right to free expression, and called on it to enter into a dialogue with all parties to come to a peaceful solution to the Kurdish issue and prevent the escalation of ethnic violence in Turkey."
|Today's Zaman Ankara|