16 October 2004
No limit should be placed on Turkish immigrants seeking work in the
UK when their country joins the European Union, Europe Minister Denis
MacShane suggested today.
He told the Commons Turks should enjoy the same freedom of movement
rights as any other EU citizen and attacked the Tories for seeking to
The European Commission last week recommended that accession talks
for the nation of 71 million, that lies mainly in Asia, should go
Tory spokesman Graham Brady questioned whether the UK would set
limits for immigrants as some EU member states did earlier this year
when several Eastern European nations joined.
"Is it your view that Turkish accession should give Turkish citizens
of all ethnic groups immediate right to free movement within the EU
and the UK or will the Government seek a derogation with regard to
Turkey just as France, Germany and others did for the countries of
Eastern Europe which joined the EU this year?" he asked.
Mr MacShane replied: "When Turkey finally enters the EU, and that
frankly is a matter of some years of negotiation, then we expect that
Turkey will have the same rights as other countries.
"I regret and deplore the campaign against Poles, Hungarians and
Czechs led by the party opposite and the isolationist right-wing
press in the winter and I hope that when Turkey finally does enter
the EU the party opposite will have changed its spots and support our
partners in Europe instead of campaigning against them being allowed
to work in the UK."
The Commission has cautioned that the talks, which could last up to a
decade and do not guarantee future membership, could be suspended if
Turkey backtracked on human rights or other reforms.
Mr MacShane said the rights of minority Kurds were "improving
steadily" as EU membership was increasingly used as a tool to secure
"For example, new laws allowing Kurdish people to study, broadcast
and register their own name," he said.
But he was less forthcoming when pressed on what efforts Turkey
should take to address historic problems with Armenia.
"I'm a Foreign Office Minister not an historian and there are times
when history perhaps should be left to history," he told the Scottish
National Party's Angus Robertson (Moray).
"Turkey wants to look to a better future in the European Union. That
will require, as it requires of all EU states, to look with tolerance
and sensitivity at some of the problems of the past but sometimes the
past is best dealt by not excessively raking it up."
12 October 2004