No: 278, 19 October 2013, Press Release Regarding the Turkey 2013 Progress Report and Enlargement Strategy Document

Turkey 2013 Progress Report and Enlargement Strategy Document prepared by the EU Commission was published on October 16, 2013.

The Report comprehensively describes the political reforms realized in Turkey during the last year. We welcome the emphasis on our Governments determination regarding the continuation of democratization and political reforms, and in this context, the reference to the Democratization Package published on September 30, 2013, as well as to the steps taken with regards to the judiciary reform and ongoing work on the new constitution. The Report states that the solution process constitutes a milestone and continues to indicate the EU’s support to this process. The Report also refers to Turkey's active role in foreign policy. We share the assessment on the significance of our cooperation with the EU in this field.

In terms of economic criteria, the Report reiterates that there is a functioning free market economy in Turkey and underlines the high economic potential of our country. It stresses that Turkey with its large and dynamic economy is a significant trade partner contributing to the EU’s competitiveness through the Customs Union. The Report indicates Turkey’s growth performance and its ability to cope with external shocks. However, some negative elements such as the current account deficit and foreign debt structure are also addressed.

In the Report, it is mentioned that the General Affairs Council agreed to open negotiations on Chapter 22-Regional Policy and Coordination of Structural Instruments in June 2013 and the negotiations will start this fall. One of the steps that have to be taken to overcome the standstill in our accession process is opening negotiations on the remaining chapters.

The Report also points out progress on the issue of visa dialogue and with reference to the Road Map proposed by the EU and the Law on Foreigners and International Protection, invites Turkey to sign the Readmission Agreement regarding the return of illegal immigrants. We are continuing our talks with the EU in the framework of our stance that the Readmission Agreement as a whole should be implemented concurrently with the start of a visa free regime for Turkish citizens.

Unfortunately, as in previous years the Cyprus issue and within this context, the dispute which occurred due to the unilateral Greek Cypriot initiatives concerning hydrocarbon resources in Eastern Mediterranean are also mentioned in the Report with a one-sided perspective. The steps and initiatives of the Turkish Cypriot side and Turkey, as the guarantor state, taken so far towards the settlement of the Cyprus issue are well known by the international community, especially by the UN. We maintain our consistent and result-oriented approach on this issue.

In this period during which negotiations on the Cyprus Issue under the auspices of the UN are foreseen to start soon, we expect the EU to adopt an attitude to steer the Greek Cypriot Administration towards a comprehensive settlement.

Membership to the EU is a strategic choice for us. With this understanding, the Progress Report will be evaluated as usual, in coordination with the relevant Turkish institutions; particularly the Ministry of EU Affairs and, our views on the Report will be conveyed to the Commission as in previous years.