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Peace at home, peace in the world

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NO:160 -;6 November 2007, Press Statement regarding the publication of Regular Reports on Turkey by the European Union Commission. (Unofficial Translation)

 

The tenth of the Regular Reports on Turkey, which are published annually since 1998, and the Enlargement Strategy Paper outlining expectations regarding the future of Europe, have been made public today by the European Union Commission.

Turkey is committed to the aim of full membership. This objective enjoys the support of our Government, the Turkish people and public opinion. Our determination is unswerving in this respect; and our commitment to addressing our shortcomings and the effective implementation of reforms is in no way diminishing. To the contrary, our resolve to this end has only increased. We will continue with the reforms until we raise our country to the highest levels in terms of democracy and human rights.

As acknowledged both in Turkey and by our EU partners, we are carrying on with this journey towards full EU membership in good faith and utmost effort.

The EU 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 that are under preparation. Reference to shortcomings, as well as to areas that require improvement is 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 those of previous years. The areas, in which further improvement are expected, appear in this report, much as they have in the previous iterations. In this framework, expectations which have been outlined in the previous report and not yet met may continue to be included in the subsequent report.

The purpose of the inclusion of some issues in the report, which may appear in a negative light, should be interpreted as the identification of areas in need of attention and focus of effort. The report also contains elements that we do not concur with. Our views and points of clarification on these elements will be conveyed to the Commission in due course as customary, taking into account the fundamental philosophy and legal foundations of the EU.

Turkey is fully aware of its responsibilities as regards harmonization with the acquis.

The relative slow-down in reforms due to electoral process is a common phenomenon in all countries. What needs to be borne in mind is that reforms are not confined to solely legislation. Indeed, significant ground has been covered in the implementation field in recent months.

Our new Parliament has been in session for only three weeks. The groundwork for reforms has already started and being submitted to the Parliament.

On the other hand, the Enlargement Strategy Paper, which presents a general assessment of enlargement and proposals for the ensuing stage in the process of membership for each candidate, in accordance with findings in the respective progress report, also includes a section on Turkey. References to Turkey therein include the following:

-Turkey continues to sufficiently fulfill the Copenhagen political criteria.

-In the light of the Preamble, as well as Article 28 of the 1963 Association Agreement, and of the Council Decision of 3 January 2005-agreed unanimously by all Member States, the aim of negotiations is clearly accession; this reflects Turkey's major strategic role from the early foundations of the European Union,

-It is essential that the European Union honours its commitments and keeps the negotiation process on track and that chapters are opened as soon as the technical conditions are met, in line with the Negotiating Framework of October 2005; in other words, the political obstacles should not be raised during the process of negotiations,

-Turkey presents a unique interface between the West and the Muslim world, and that its accession to the EU, based on profound democratic transformation is followed with interest in the Middle East and the wider Muslim world, and that this has been brought out clearly by the Alliance of Civilizations initiative,

-The parliamentary elections were free and fair, and the new government presented an EU-oriented reform agenda,

-Turkey’s contributions to ESDP, as well as its potential of becoming a major energy route, and therefore a key actor for the security of Europe’s energy supply are recognized.

We are pleased to note the acknowledgement of the contractual obligations of the EU with regard to Turkey’s membership process, and reference to the strategic importance to the EU of our membership, reaffirming our long-held views.

To relegate the future of the deep-rooted relations between Turkey and the EU to the inclinations of political leaders in some Member States, or to reduce our relationship to the implementation of the Additional Protocol will indeed be a dubious course of action, not least from the point of view of the decisions that Europe will take on its own future.

We are fully confident that our friends in the EU will display the strength of will in opposing efforts to put impediments that are not related to the process before us.

We are also of the opinion that the EU will become more aware of the potential contributions that Turkey’s accession will provide, and that our relationship from this point forward will be characterized by this enhanced wisdom.