No: 153, 27 May 2013, Press Release Regarding the 51st Meeting of the Turkey-European Union Association Council.

The 51st meeting of the Turkey-European Union Association Council was held today in Brussels under the chairmanship of Minister of Foreign Affairs H.E. Mr. Ahmet Davutoğlu and with the participation of H.E. Mr. Gilmore, Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade of Ireland, which currently holds the EU Presidency and H.E. Mr. Füle, European Commissioner for Enlargement and Neighbourhood Policy. On the occasion of the meeting of the Association Council, which is the highest-level decision-making body between Turkey and the EU, all aspects of our relations with the EU were addressed in a comprehensive manner.

In this regard, views were exchanged on the current stage of the accession negotiations with the EU and the recent progress made in the reform process, as well as various issues related to the functioning of the Customs Union and the work towards alignment with the acquis were reviewed.

During the meeting, Minister of Foreign Affairs Davutoğlu expressed our disappointment that the accession negotiations with the European Union have not been moving forward with the desired speed and scope. While it was noted with pleasure that Chapter 22 would be opened before the end of the Irish Presidency, it was also stated that this step was not considered sufficient to revitalize our relations. Our goal of accelerating and concluding the negotiation process was once more emphasized.

Minister Davutoğlu also drew attention to the importance of the momentum that would be gained by providing visa liberalization to Turkish citizens and to the difficulties encountered in concluding free trade agreements with third countries in parallel with the EU, in line with the Customs Union.

On the Cyprus issue, which is among the main obstacles placed in front of Turkey’s negotiation process, the Minister, after drawing attention to the fact that the Cyprus issue and Turkey’s EU membership process are two different issues, noted that there is a difference of interpretation between Turkey and the EU on the implementation of the Additional Protocol and, reminding of the decision of the European Council dated 26 April 2004 on ending the isolation of the Turkish Cypriots, declared that if the EU fulfills this commitment, Turkey would be ready to take further steps. On the other hand, he stressed that the inability to find a comprehensive solution on the Island in spite of all the efforts of Turkey and the TRNC is due to the lack of political will on the part of the GASC and that a political settlement on the Island would help the GASC overcome the economic crisis it is experiencing.

At a time when Turkey-EU relations have gained greater importance than previously, a new strategic vision needs to be developed. Turkey will pursue its democratization and reform process towards its strategic choice, the goal of full EU membership. It expects the EU to leave the Euro crisis behind as soon as possible in order to give more weight to the enlargement process.