Press Release Regarding The European Commission's 2009 Progress Report On Turkey And The Enlargement Strategy Paper , 14.10.2009
As the strategic goal of Turkey, the EU accession process remains the primary item of our agenda. We are determined to continuously advance and, even more importantly, to give momentum to this process. The Government Statement of 12 October stressed the importance we attach to our accession process with the EU and listed in detail some of the steps we aim to take in the near future.
As expressed in this statement, no compromise will be allowed on our goal towards full membership, which is a state policy, and the rights we have acquired therein. This historic objective of Turkey arises also as a natural strategic goal of the EU in its aim of strengthening its role in the world of the future. As an element of trust and stability in its region, dynamic Turkey’s membership to the EU is an indispensable element to disseminate universal values to a wider geography and to increase the prosperity and the security of both sides. Turkey will continue to work towards this goal in the most determined manner.
Of paramount importance in this process, the twelfth Regular Report on Turkey, prepared annually since 1998, and the Enlargement Strategy Paper outlining expectations regarding the future, have been published today by the European Commission.
The reaffirmation that it is in the EU’s interest to keep up the momentum of the enlargement process is a positive element in the Strategy Paper. We also welcome the Commission view that bilateral issues should not hold up the accession process and that the parties concerned should find solutions in a spirit of good neighborliness.
As regards Turkey, the Enlargement Strategy states that:
- Turkey plays a key role in regional security, energy supply and the promotion of dialogue between civilizations;
- Turkey has taken initiatives to contribute to stabilization in the Southern Caucasus, the Middle East and other regions and has made significant efforts to normalize relations with Armenia, resulting in the signature of protocols for the normalization of relations;
- The Intergovernmental Agreement on the Nabucco gas pipeline was signed;
- Accession negotiations have reached a more demanding stage requiring a new impetus;
- Additional chapters were opened during the reporting period;
- However, the pace of reforms must be stepped up.
It is positive that the Progress Report, while indicating shortcomings, incorporates the reforms that have been realized in the past year in detail. Some of the highlighted issues are as follows:
- The Reform Monitoring Group – made up of the Ministers of Foreign Affairs, Interior and Justice and State Minister and EU Negotiator- met every two months and provided strong support to the reform process;
- The Government appointed M. Egemen Bağış as a full-time Chief Negotiator with the status of State Minister;
- A law was adopted giving the European Union Secretariat General wider responsibilities;
- The Third National Program for the Adoption of the Acquis was adopted;
- Progress was made as regards cultural rights, including starting the operation of TRT-6, broadcasting in Kurdish 24 hours a day and radio broadcasting in Armenian;
- A Parliamentary Committee on Equal Opportunities for Men and Women was established;
- The Judicial Reform Strategy was approved;
- Turkey ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities;
- Although more efforts need to be made, there is an atmosphere of an increasingly open and free debate in Turkish society,
On the other hand, the Progress Report also refers to the “Cyprus” issue. The negotiations aiming at a comprehensive settlement in Cyprus continue on the basis of the established UN parameters such as bi-zonality, political equality and a new Partnership with two Constituent States of equal status. Turkey’s full support to this process has been underlined by our various statements. Turkey expects the international community and the EU in particular to focus on and actively support this process.
The European Commission prepares similar reports on candidate and negotiating countries on an annual basis. These reports only include adopted legislation and implemented measures. They do not take into account legislation or measures under preparation. References to shortcomings, as well as to areas that require improvement, are in line with the mandate of the Commission in its preparation of progress reports. As such, shortcomings in legislation and implementation will continue to be included in future reports on Turkey until we become a full member.
This year’s report is structurally similar to that of last year’s. The areas in which further improvements are expected appear in this report much as they have in the previous ones. Expectations which have been outlined in the previous report but not yet been realized may continue to be included in the subsequent report.
The purpose of the inclusion of some issues which may appear unfavorable should be interpreted as the identification of areas in need of attention and towards which efforts need to be channeled. Our views and points of clarification regarding the issues with which we do not concur will be conveyed to the Commission in due course as customary.