ANKARA: Turkish FM, EU’s Rehn, Germany’s Fischer Address Conference


Anatolia news agency, Ankara
20 Oct 04

Istanbul, 20 October: Turkish Foreign Minister and Deputy Prime
Minister Abdullah Gul said on Wednesday (20 October): “Turkey will
continue deepening its democracy on the basis of European
values. Actually, these universal values conform to Turkish people’s
traditional and moral values.”

Speaking at a conference organized by the European Parliament
Greens/EFA (European Freedoms Alliance) Group in Istanbul on “Turkey
in the EU: A Common Future”, Gul said: “Some political movements in
political history of Europe made decisive contributions to economic
and social development. Those contributions also affected the
universal politics positively. I consider the Greens Group one of the
most dynamic political powers of today’s Europe and world politics.”

“In the past, disagreements, misunderstandings, tension and
discussions were dominant over our relations with members of the
European Freedoms Alliance. Now, our relations have changed into
mutual understanding, confidence and cooperation. I believe that such
a change is necessary and beneficial in regard to the common future of
Turkey and Europe and their interests,” he said.

Referring to the economic and political reforms made by the (ruling)
Justice and Development Party (AK Party) in its two-year political
power, Gul said: “A peaceful foreign policy has been accompanying
those political and economic reforms. Everyone is aware of Turkey’s
initiatives to prevent the war in Iraq, its efforts to reach a
compromise between Azerbaijan and Armenia, its priority to urgent
solution of Israeli-Palestinian dispute, and its courageous efforts to
find a solution to the Cyprus issue.” (passage omitted)

“Turkey-EU integration process should progress steadily towards the
target of full membership without any delay. Therefore, the decision
to be made at the EU summit on 17 December is of great importance as
regards to setting the route of Turkey-EU integration process,” he
said. (passage omitted)

Turkey’s EU membership will open new horizons for both Turkey and the
EU and bring forth new challenges, Olli Rehn, new commissioner of the
EU, said on Wednesday. He also said that Turkey’s accession to the EU
was one of the most important items of the union’s agenda.

Stressing that Turkey had made a series of very meaningful reforms
since 1999, Rehn listed some of those reforms as annulment of death
penalty, broadcast in Kurdish and the other languages and the new
penal code. There are still steps to be taken in fundamental freedoms,
minority rights, trade unions and human rights, but the most important
thing is that reforms should be sustainable in Turkey, he said.

The European Commission said in its progress report for Turkey that if
political criteria were violated, entry talks could be suspended, Rehn
said and noted that it was envisaged by the EU constitution and was
valid for all other candidate states. “Entry talks could last for the
next ten years. Opening of entry talks and Turkey’s ongoing efforts
will lead to a macro-economic stability in Turkey. Turkey’s dynamic
population will support Europe’s ageing population. We are about to
open a new page in the EU integration process. Turkey’s EU accession
process will be tough and complicated. However, the target at the end
of this path is quite meaningful,” he said.

Meanwhile, German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer said on Wednesday
that if the EU made a positive decision on 17 December and opened
entry talks with Turkey, it should put forward a clear perspective.

Fischer also said that Turkey’s modernization had integrated with
Europe’s perspective since foundation of modern Republic of
Turkey. The German government had always advocated the perspective
that Turkey belonged to the EU, he said.

Stressing that Turkey had recorded an unbelievable progress, Fischer
said: “I would like to ask our Turkish partners not to comment on
decisions of the EU against them. This is a learning process. This is
a process to understand implementation of reforms. I propose Turkey to
wait for decision of the EU Council on 17 December. In that case, we
will have taken the first step of our Bosphorus dream.”

Highlighting strategic importance of the Middle East and Mediterranean
for Europe’s security, Fischer said that the EU countries should
realize the importance of Turkey’s desire to become a member of the
EU. (passage omitted)