EU Troika delegation met with Turkey’s Foreign Minister – Cowen, Ireland
March 8 2004

Irish EU Presidency : EU Troika delegation met with Turkey’s Foreign
Minister – Cowen

An EU Troika delegation, led by Brian Cowen T.D., Minister for
Foreign Affairs, met with Turkey’s Foreign Minister, Mr. Abdullah
Gul, in Ankara today. Minister Cowen was accompanied by the High
Representative for CFSP, Javier Solana, EU Commissioner for
Enlargement Gunter Verheugen and the Foreign Minister of the
Netherlands, Bernard Bot.

At a press conference after the meeting, Minister Cowen said:

“We have had very useful discussions this morning with Foreign
Minister Gul covering EU – Turkey relations and a range of
international issues, including the Middle East, Iraq and Iran. We
also discussed current developments in Georgia, Armenia and
Azerbaijan, focusing on the positive role which Turkey, as a
neighbour, can play in the region. We will have further discussions
later today with Prime Minister Erdogan.

This is a very important point in the development of relations
between the European Union and Turkey, as we prepare for the European
Council decision in December. We have reiterated our strong assurance
that if the European Council decides in December that Turkey fulfils
the Copenhagen political criteria, the EU is committed to opening
accession negotiations without delay. A key element in that decision
will of course be progress in the reform process. We have warmly
welcomed the very substantial progress made to date in legislating
for reform. We discussed this morning a number of outstanding issues
in the process and the crucial importance of moving ahead with the
practical implementation of reforms at all levels of administration
and throughout the country.

We had a good discussion on the Cyprus problem. We confirmed the
strong support of the EU for the efforts of the UN Secretary General.
It is our firm hope that the parties will redouble their efforts in
the negotiating process now under way in Cyprus, on the basis of a
commitment to reaching a settlement based on the Secretary General’s
proposals. The clear preference of the EU is for the accession of a
united Cyprus. The only way to achieve this is on the basis of the
Annan Plan. The objective remains the agreement on a settlement which
will enable the accession of a united Cyprus on 1 May. This is
clearly in the interests of all the people of Cyprus, of the European
Union and of Turkey. It is also in the interests of the development
of ever closer relations between the EU and Turkey.

I have assured Foreign Minister Gul that the EU remains ready to
accommodate the terms of a settlement in line with the principles on
which the Union is founded. We are also ready, in consultation with
Secretary General Kofi Annan, to assist in any way which he feels
could usefully encourage agreement. ”

The Troika delegation will meet with Prime Minister Erdogan later
this afternoon.