European Parliament Turkey Rapporteur Camiel Eurlings said on Friday that the trial of Turkish novelist Orhan Pamuk was harmful to Turkey's image in Europe.
Eurlings, who is currently in Istanbul to observe the trial, told the reporters outside the Sisli Criminal Court that the trial was an impediment to freedom of expression, according to the semi- official Anatolia News Agency.
Pamuk, a best-selling novelist, faces charges of "insulting Turkey and Turkishness" in his remarks to a Swiss weekly "Das Magazin" in February.
In the interview with the magazine, Pamuk declared that one million Armenians and 30,000 Kurds were killed by Turkish Ottoman Empire during World War I and that nobody but he dared to talk about it in Turkey.
Ankara categorically denies the accusations of massacres of Armenians.
The Sisli Criminal Court in Istanbul postponed Pamuk's trial until Feb. 7, 2006 so as to allow time for the Turkish Justice Ministry to make a decision on whether Pamuk is tried according to the former Penal Code since his alleged offense was committed before Turkey's new Penal Code went into effect.
Commenting on the adjournment, Eurlings said, "I think the first day of the trial is a sad day for Turkey, because the minister of justice did not take the opportunity to cancel this case."
"If the Turkish government is serious to fulfill the reforms, it should have canceled the case. This is a very big disappointment. Unfortunately, the trial was not canceled," added Eurlings.
Claiming that the articles in the new Turkish Penal Code pertaining to freedom of expression were not adequate, Eurlings said obstacles in front of freedom of expression should be lifted and repetition of such trials should be prevented.
Meanwhile, European Commission member and former British Minister for Europe Dennis MacShane expressed his concern on the negative effect on Turkey's process of entry to the European Union (EU) brought by Pamuk trial, saying that it seemed hard for Turkey to enter the EU if this case was not canceled.
The EU started entry negotiations with Turkey on Oct. 3, but the talks are expected to last at least a decade before a conclusion. The pan-Europe bloc demands Turkey to conduct wide- ranging reforms, including in human rights.