Estonia’s Russian Case and the EU Perspective In July 1995, Eesti Vabariik became an associate member of the European Union with the goal of eventually attaining full membership. In December 1997 Estonia was one of five countries invited to participate in the first round of negotiations for full entry into the EU so Commission prepared progress reports about its minority rights problem to assist the solution of ethnic minorty question that has lasted since 1991.
In Progress Report 1998, EU stated that accession to citizenship status of those who speak Russian and do not have citizenship status should be accelerated; and community integration should be provided. Commission set place widely to integration of minorities and it determined limitation of minorities to enter politics in accordance with the Copenhagen Criterias.
In Progress Report 1999, Commission determined that 7000 person obtained citizenship status within one year; but it criticized bureaucratic obstacles and language conditions because they decelerate process. In 2001 Progress Report emphasized that 80% of population has citizenship statue but 13% of population is still non-citizen.
In 2002 Progress Report, Commission underlined low progress on non-citizen persons to citizenship status. Estonia is a side of 'Framework Convention' regarding protection of minorities. Commission emphasized on it because Estonia did not make enough effort for naturalizing although Estonia became a party to 'Framework Convention'.
In Progress Report 1998, Commission said that the protection of minorities in Romania remains satisfactory with the major exception of the Hungarians of Transilvania. Romanian government made effort to “respect and protect” the Hungarian minority in Transilvania.
In Progress Report 1999, Commission declares that Romania took a serious step on the use of minority language. They gave effort to complete the legal framework for setting up multi-cultural universities, as well as for studying in national minorities’ mother tongue at all levels and forms of education if there is sufficient demand for it.
In Progress Report 2000, Commission stated that Hungarian minorities represents the 7.8% of population. Their minority rights are guaranteed by international agreements. Commission also said that Hungarian minority is well-integrated especially after the last amendments. The current situation is that minorities have right to be represented in the parliament. For example, in existing government, a minister from UDMR (the Democratic Alliance of Hungarian from Romania) came to head of the Department of Minorities.
In Progress Report 2001, Commission stated that the population of Hungarian minority is 1.6 million; also they are the most politically integrated minority group. Romanian provision is quite developed on the rights of minorities; also it gave quite wide rights in the mother tongue education.
In the Progress Report of 2002, Commission continued to give details about developments. In addition to law that allow the use of minority language in localities’ services, there is obligation to employ police officers that know the minority language in localities that population of minority is over 20% of population. * In the progress report of 2003, commission told that Romanian constitution was revised and the revised constitution let the minorities to use their mother tongue in court proceeding.
In Progress Report 2004, which is the last progress report, Commission states that there is no major minority problem except the Gypsies in Romania. The decisions about the use of minority language in the court proceeding is implemented.
After the start of accession negotiations in 2005, the first draft report was submitted to the EU Parliament’s Foreign Relations Committee by Dutch Parliamentarian Camiel Eurlings who was the Turkey rapporteur of the EU Parliament. The report was harshly criticized Turkey due to violations of thought- speech freedom, democratic rights of different political and social groups and intolerance against the actions of different ethnic-religious groups in the country. Also, the Eurlings report clearly stressed that Turkey’s inability to become an EU member in the short-run.
Second, in November 2006, a new Progress Report was prepared by the EU Commission and presented by Olli Rehn, the EU Enlargement Commissioner. This report also criticized Turkey because of slowness of required reforms for the recovery of political and social rights of the minorities, mainly for the Kurds. It was also cited as the continunity of the earlier Eurlings Report.
’In Nov 2006, Hans Jorg Kretscher, the outgoing head of the EU Commission in Ankara, called on Turkey to recognize the identity of the Kurd and supported the notion of ‘of Turkey’ instead of the term of ‘Turk’. He also said: ‘’it is necessary to recognize the identity of Kurds, because Kurds are Kurd, they are not Turks, but they want to be Turkish citizens, but they are Kurds, you can not deny this fact’’.
1 May 2004: it does not mean that all EU legislation has been implemented. In the 2003 European Commission comprehensive monitoring reports on Estonia emphasized that in the area of anti-discrimination legislation ‘important shortcomings subsist with regard to full transposition of the acquis’
Estonia constitution includes specific laws which prohibit discrimination but these laws were seen insufficient and not compatible with EU Race Equality Directive.
Estonia was still criticized in spite of all developments because there are no effective anti-discrimination provisions. The lack of information dissemination about discrimination cases is another reason for criticizing of Estonia.
13 % of population was depriving from obtaining citizenship in 2002; but this figure decreased to 9 % in 2004 with partial solution not radical changing. In spite of inherited issues and the lack of integration, Estonia became member of EU in 2004.
In Progress Report 2004 there is no news about Hungarian minority. “Since Commission concluded in its 1997 opinion that Romanians fulfilled the political criteria, the country has further consolidated and deepened the stability of its institutions guaranteeing democracy, the rule of law, human rights and respect for and protection of minorities.”
INTEGRATION POLICY Estonia adopted first integration policy in 1999 and then adopted another policy which covered 2000- 2007. In 2008, new integration policy adopted and it covers 2008-2013. Its basis on equal opportunities, avoidance of discrimination and originating from ethnicity, adoption of fundamental European values, acceptation of Estonian as common language in public sphere, integration as a process originating at the individual level and involving the whole of society.
LANGUAGE POLICY In 2006, Estonian Parliament made amendment of constitution NEW EQUAL TREATMENT LAW It entered into force in 2009. It covers direct and indirect discrimination and rules for preventing discrimination.
In 2006 European Commission against racism and intolerance published one report which examined racism, xenophobia, anti-semitism and intolerance in Estonia. In respect of the report, there is an increase in the number of obtaining citizenship status of stateless people but Estonia government did not make a consistent policy which aimed at integration of Russian speaking and Estonian speaking communities. ECRI published a new report on Estonia in 2010. In accordance with this report, there had been improvements but Estonia hold huge numbers of stateless people also limited intercourse between Russian speakers and Estonians and high unemployment in minority groups.
In respect of positive developments, the 2009 Equal Treatment Act was created for combating racism and discrimination in employment, education, housing and social protection areas. Besides, Estonian integration strategy 2008-2013 includes valuable goals about Russian-speaking minorities and stateless persons. In spite of all developments, the number of stateless person is 8 % of population because there is stringent language policy and other requirements for obtaining citizenship status, integration of Russian speaking minorities and Estonians does not come to truth completely.
The situation of minorities in Romania is quite developed thanks to reforms made through the accession process of EU. Expectations and fulfilment of EU accession caused to disappearance Hungarian minority’s problems by reducing the importance of borders between Romania and Hungary. Hungarian minority enjoys lots of rights such as education in Hungarian language, existence of Hungarian cultural institutions, Hungarian newspapers and other publications. Also there are fewer problems in bringing Hungarian materials to Romania. Furthermore, minorities are represented in every chambers of the parliament.
Both majority and minority can argue freely on human rights and Hungarian minority. Romanian government made effort to give rights to Hungarian minority, which meet the European Union standards with the incentive to fulfil Copenhagen Criteria to access EU.
In terms of the obligations of the Copenhagen Criteria, Turkey has met to some purely concessions under the EU mandate through both political discourses and some actions of the previous and current goverments. In 1991, PM Demirel declared that Turkey has recognized the Kurdish reality. In 1993, PM Tansu Çiller, brouched the ‘Basque Model’ as a potential formula for solving Turkey’s Kurdish Problem after a meeting with the Spanish PM. In 1999, the former PM Mesut Yılmaz, declared that the road to the EU passes through Diyarbakır. In 2005, the current PM Erdoğan, declared that Turkey had a Kurdish problem had made grave mistakes in the past, and now needed more democracy to solve the problem’’
The first official step in 1999 after Helsinki Summit by DSP-MHP-ANAP : the abolishment of the death penalty in Turkey, that was mostly concerning Abdullah Öcalan. In 2004 when the negotiations with the EU started, five harmonization packages for the EU negotiation process were passed: - abolishment of the ban of TV broadcasting on mother-tangue -the release of some former political criminals (especially for Kurdish politicians and intellectuals) -improvement of thought-speech freedom in political and cultural respects. the power and authority of the National Security Council was diminished in the name of decreasing the role of the Turkish military in the national security issues, especially about ethnic separatism and terrorism in accordance with the EU harmonization process since 2005.
Article 312 of the Turkish Penal Code could make verbal or written support of the Kurdish right as a provocative action that may cause an ethnic hatred within the Turkish society regardless different ethnic, religious and social groups in the country.Therefore, in terms of the EU Commission reports in the early of 1990s, Article 312 was seen as a serious barrier versus freedom of thought in Turkey
a new Penal Code which entered into force in 2005 when the accession negotiations formally started.However, although this new code could especially emphasize social, cultural and individual rights and freedoms theoratically, the fundamental problem was still remaining that referring the priority of state security before the rule of law.. This negative aspect has been also illustrated by Article 301 that means the protection of ‘Turkishness’ and ‘the Turkish state’ with enforcement and punishment
Article 8 of the Anti-Terrorism Law made it possible to accuse any politician, academician or intellectual who speak up about the Kurdish rights as a speaker of separatist propaganda of PKK. Also, written or oral propaganda, meetings and demonstrations that aims recovery of the Kurdish rights in everywhere of the country were accepted as illegal actions in accordance with this law.
Article 49 of the constitution still mandates that no language other than Turkish can be thought as a mother tongue to Turkish citizens at institutions of training and education. The recent theoretical legalization of Kurdish language classes was in practice prevented by overly onerous technical requirements.
Romania: it made and developed programs, strategies and policies for the interest of minorities. Thereby these helped to recover the daily life of minorities. Commission did not mention about Hungarian minority in the general evaluation part of last progress report. Estonia : it also made strategies and amendments on the behalf of Russian minorities but these are not sufficient for prevention of discrimination in all spheres of the life. Moreover, the figure of non-citizen persons is 9%. Nevertheless, minority issue is not over. Turkey: the situation of Kurdish people is not at satisfying level. Although some political leaders happen to say reform package for Kurdish people, either they never come in truth or legislation was not implemented. It is because anxiety of leaders is elections and they wanted to obtain to support of public opinion besides Turkey made ostensible reforms for propitiation of EU. So there is huge gap between Turkey and EU members in terms of ethnic conflict.
Before we started to write the article: we thought that Estonia and Romania was accepted to EU although these states do not make any important programmes and strategies to recover the daily life of minorities and fulfil the Copenhagen Criteria. However, EU wants Turkey to make reforms about minority issue to take a step in the pre-accession process. Therefore; EU implements different treatment to Turkey in terms of minorities. After we studied on different countries and read their progress reports: we perceived that situation is exactly opposite. It is because both Romania and Estonia made reforms and lots of amendments in their constitution to give more rights to minorities in their land. However when we come to Turkey, we realized that Turkey could not manage to build up an effective mechanism to protect and respect the existence of minorities.