Statement By H.E. Mr. İsmail Cem June 26, 2001 – Luxembourg

Agenda Item 3: Strategy for the Preparations for Accession, in Particular in the Light of the Accession Partnership, of Turkey’s National Programme for the Adoption of the Acquis And of the Commission’s Regular Report.

Statement By H.E. Mr. İsmail Cem,
Minister of Foreign Affairs of Turkey

40th Session of the Turkey - EC Associatıon Council

Mme President, 
Distinguished Colleagues, 

I am happy to note that our Council meetings now take place on a regular yearly basis. Moreover, this past year has been quite encouraging in terms of our mutual achievements.  

Accession Partnership, National Program, Screening

In this period, the Commission presented its third Regular Report on Turkey and prepared the Accession Partnership document while Turkey submitted its National Program for the Adoption of the Acquis. The EU also adopted a framework agreement for financial cooperation. The eight sub-committees we created at our last Council meeting for analytical examination of the acquis, have nearly completed two rounds of meetings and have made progress.  

In short, it is evident that we have made the most of the past year. And we intend to continue and speed up this process. 

Turkey’s unchanging goal is to become a full member of the Union. We are aware that opening accession negotiations requires the fulfilment of the Copenhagen political criteria. Our National Program will accordingly be updated on a yearly basis in accordance with the developments attained. As the NPAA was adopted concurrently with the Accession Partnership last March, we consider the short-term period to be the period until March 2002. We request the Commission to take this into account as it writes its Regular Report for 2001. This is important because by the time the Report is drafted, only six months will have passed.  

In this regard, I ask you to note that some of the laws and regulations envisioned for the medium term have already been enacted by the Parliament.  

Our last development is the proposed amendments to the Turkish Constitution. The Interparty Commission of the Turkish Parliament prepared a report proposing amendments to 51 Articles. 17 of these 51 Articles are those also referred to in the National Program. The amendments, consistent with the terms of the Convention of the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, are aimed to remove any remaining restrictions on basic rights and freedoms. In addition to Constitutional reform, a new draft penal code as well as a new civil code are also before the Parliament. 

Several conventions of the Council of Europe are in the process of being either signed or ratified. The Protocol amending the 1961 Convention on Drugs and the European Convention on the Exercise of Children’s Rights have been ratified. An Economic and Social Council has been created. 

The judicial system is also being overhauled. The Ministry of Justice has been reorganized and a Criminal Enforcement Judge has been established. A law concerning the higher education of the police has been enacted. Anti-corruption measures are being enforced. Article 16 of the anti-terrorism law has been amended.  

All these efforts demonstrate that our political reform process covers a wide range of issues, aimed at improving human rights, strengthening the rule of law and the restructuring of democratic institutions.   

In the economic sphere, the recent financial crisis has been instrumental in speeding up the restructuring process. The new economic program envisages a series of legal arrangements like the Law on Ending Duty Losses of Public Banks, Public Borrowing Law, Public Tender Law, Central Bank Law. In addition there will be amendments to the budget law and the Banking Law. Some like the Natural Gas Law, the Sugar Law and the Telecom Law have already been enacted. 

In sum, in a relatively short span of time considerable progress has been made for harmonisation with the EU acquis. 

In this respect, the sub-committee meetings have been useful in Turkey’s harmonisation efforts. We have been able to make a clearer and sounder assessment of the EU acquis and its requirements. Turkey was also able to utilise its experience in harmonisation it garnered during the Customs Union. TAIEX has also been a valuable tool in these efforts. We therefore expect to be able to participate and use TAIEX activities in a full-fledged manner. 

The two rounds of meetings have, in our estimate, now prepared us for a full analytical examination in all the 29 chapters. Compliance with the political criteria is a prerequisite for opening accession negotiations but not for opening a formal screening process. This is our understanding. Opening a formal screening process would give an important message to the Turkish people and the EU publics. Once formal screening gets underway, we are confident that the technical preparations for harmonisation would be in full gear. 

In this respect, financial cooperation is a crucial component and needs to be augmented. We also expect that the national indicative program be finalised before the end of this year as envisaged. 

Community Programs 

I am pleased to note that the Council has finally given its mandate to the Commission for negotiating a framework agreement on the general principles for the participation of Turkey in Community Programs. As Turkey is the only candidate that does not benefit from any Community Programs, this is a positive development.  

We have given a list last February on our priorities regarding the Community Programs with which we can be associated. We hope to be able to conclude this Framework Agreement as soon as possible so that we may be able to participate in the programs.  


I would now like to mention some political matters. Cyprus is not an issue between Turkey and the EU, as it is not a part of the Copenhagen criteria. Cyprus is an issue among the two equal, distinct peoples in the Island, namely the Turkish Cypriots and the Greek Cypriots; each living under their sovereign, democratic state structures. 

Turkey will continue to support the efforts of the UN Secretary General for a mutually acceptable peaceful and lasting settlement reflecting the consent of the two parties, freely negotiated on the basis of their sovereign equality and the realities on the Island.        

However, a settlement to the Cyprus issue, which is not created by the Turkish side, does not solely depend on the Turkish Cypriot party or Turkey. The way to the settlement in Cyprus is through the acknowledgement of the realities in the Island. The Turkish Cypriots and the Greek Cypriots are two equal shareholders, co-owners of the Island and co-founders of the 1960 partnership state in Cyprus. Each are equally entitled to sovereignty and self-determination. Only working on this basis, we could reach our objective of a just and viable settlement. 

We expect from the EU to see these realities in the Island. As long as the facts and the circumstances prevailing in the Island are ignored, we continue to lose time at this crucial juncture, as we mutually approach the point of no return. 

I take this opportunity to underline once again that the unilateral accession process of the Greek Cypriots provided by the EU is in defiance of the international treaties and therefore illegitimate. It does not only destroy the chance of a settlement in Cyprus, but also threaten peace and stability prevailing in the region since 1974 as well as the delicate regional balance. EU should not allow itself to be drawn as a party into the Cyprus conflict. Needless to say, the membership of the Greek Cypriot administration as “the Republic of Cyprus” to the EU will definitely deepen the division in the Island and put peace and stability at risk in the Eastern Mediterranean. In such an eventuality, there would be no option left for the Turkish Cypriots, but to go to their way. 

What we need in Cyprus is a viable settlement. The priority should be given to the settlement. It is a fact that the Greek Cypriot party is simply not interested in a settlement in Cyprus since they have channelled all their energy to the achievement of the unilateral accession to the EU. At this crucial stage, the EU must open the way to the settlement and encourage the Greek Cypriots. As previously stated by the UN Secretary General, the EU membership of the Island should be discussed and agreed to in the context of an overall settlement in Cyprus. 

 We continue to entertain the hope that the European Union will act in awareness of its responsibility and decide, before late, in favour of law, legitimacy, justice and fairness. By doing so, it will protect its own welfare and the stability and security of the Eastern Mediterranean by contributing to the efforts in search of a settlement bringing the two states in Cyprus together under a common roof as envisaged by the confederation proposal of the Turkish Cypriot party which is still the most realistic approach for a viable settlement in Cyprus.
 After all, it is our common aspiration to live in lasting peace, security and stability. This could be achieved only by taking responsible and courageous steps towards the establishment of a new partnership in Cyprus.


Regarding the relations with Greece, I am glad to state that we have accomplished a lot. Both Greece and Turkey are both aware of the fact that, friendly relations based on mutual respect and confidence, are of vital importance for peace, security and stability, in the Southeastern Europe in general and the Eastern Mediterranean in particular. We are also aware that, reaching the target requires a lot of hard and sober work and sustained political commitment.

Out of the nine bilateral agreements in various fields, which were signed in Ankara and Athens during the reciprocal visits of my colleague Mr. Papandreou and myself, in January and February 2000, four have already gone into force and we expect the remaining five to go into force very soon. These agreements are important texts which constitute the legal basis for our cooperation. The mechanism established at bilateral level for sharing Greece’s experiences in integrating with the European Union is also functioning satisfactorily. 

On our part, I may easily say that Turkey is ready to expand the scope of the dialogue between our two countries to other bilateral issues. In this framework, I would like to state once more that Turkey is – as has always been- willing to initiate talks in addressing the issues concerning the Aegean as foreseen in  article 33 of the UN Charter. I hope this will also be possible in the near future. 


I would also like to clarify once again our stand on the European Security and Defence Policy (ESDP). There is no doubt that an initiative that aims to enhance European security and enable Europeans to play a fuller role in managing crises will have a positive effect on peace and stability in and around Europe. This is why Turkey has consistently and actively supported all efforts over the last decade to augment European security and will continue to do so, the ESDP included. It is no secret that the most important aspect of this process for Turkey is how our vested interests in European security will be merged into the new framework that is being established by the EU. In this context, given Turkey’s positioning and capabilities, our effective participation in European crisis management activities should be of high value in European security.   

The principles on which the EU will have ready access to the collective assets and capabilities of NATO have been outlined at the Washington Summit back in April 1999. Turkey views the link and the interaction between NATO and the EU in the field of crisis management as a must relationship. Detailed work on specific arrangements is steadily proceeding in the Alliance with a view to providing NATO support for future EU-led operations. More importantly, practical co-operation is already underway in the field and has proven to be effective. In this vein, contrary to media speculation, NATO-EU co-operation is slowly but surely gathering pace and will continue to do so. However, the important issue of participation, which is one of the defining dimensions of the whole process, is yet to be resolved, even though there has recently been some progress. A solution is within our grasp if all the involved parties continue to display the foresight and flexibility. 

Mme President, 

As I concluded my statement last year, which was just a few months after Helsinki, I pointed out that Turkey – EU relations saw a dramatic turnaround. I can happily note that in the past year we have been successful in meeting the challenges. We are aware that this is just the beginning. Yet, we are also confident that with closer cooperation with our new family, we will be able to fulfil the requirements at a quicker pace.