The European Commission has been preparing Progress Reports on Turkey annually since 1998, which reflect the developments achieved in the field of alignment with the acquis in the course of the year. The 13th Progress Report on Turkey has been published today, together with the Enlargement Strategy Document which contains the findings, assessments and priorities as regards the EU enlargement agenda.
The 2010 Progress Report includes widely the political reforms achieved in Turkey in the last year. The positive findings in the Report constitute the reflection of our work aimed at raising the rights and freedoms of Turkish citizens to the highest universal standards. We welcome the fact that the progress achieved by Turkey in the field of political criteria during the reporting period is thus registered by the Progress Report.
The expectations mentioned in the Report constitute an inventory of the steps that should be taken to meet the necessary criteria until accession, like other candidate and negotiating countries. As a matter of fact, the work to be done in this direction was shared with the public through the National Programs and Action Plan announced by our Government. Our Government, as expressed on every occasion, is strongly resolved to achieve progress in the reform process and will take the necessary steps. The comprehensive constitutional amendments which were adopted in the referendum of 12 September 2010 are the most tangible indicators of our determination.
The expectations regarding alignment with the acquis will continue to take place in the progress reports until accession in a decreasing manner.
In the Report, it is also stressed that the economic stability program that Turkey is implementing and the structural reforms carried out in basic sectors increased the resilience of Turkish economy in face of the crisis. In this regard, the success of the disciplined and consistent policy implemented by our Government in this field has also been acknowledged. On the other hand, thanks to the financial measures and robust structure of our banking sector, the Report underlines that Turkey managed to overcome the impacts of the global economic crisis and its growth rate is substantially increasing again.
The Cyprus issue is also mentioned in the Report. Negotiations towards a comprehensive settlement in Cyprus continue on the basis of a new partnership with two constituent states of equal status and the established UN parameters of bi-zonality and political equality. The steps made and initiatives taken by the Turkish Cypriot side and Turkey so far towards the settlement of the Cyprus issue are well known by the international community, especially by the UN. The UN also confirms that the Turkish side wants a settlement until the end of 2010 in line with the target set by the UN Secretary General. Actually, the Turkish side’s intense efforts played an important role in the progress that has been made so far in the process. With Turkey’s encouragement and support The Turkish Cypriot side enabled significant progress by submitting a comprehensive package proposal on the Governance and Power Sharing Chapter in January and lastly prepared a very comprehensive and constructive proposal package on property early September, with new and innovative ideas. The UN has also confirmed that we are now very close to achieving the comprehensive settlement aim. Turkey will continue to provide utmost support to the ongoing negotiation process and, in accordance with its rights and responsibilities as a guarantor state, to develop initiatives encouraging the sides to conclude the negotiations with a settlement as soon as possible.
However, despite all our efforts, the desired progress in the settlement process has not been achieved yet. This situation arises neither from the Turkish Cypriot side nor from Turkey. Nevertheless, we regret that the report contains expressions on expectations of active support from the Turkish side. If the EU wants to open the way for the settlement, it should keep these facts in mind and first fulfill its commitments undertaken with the Council Decision dated 26 April 2004 to end the isolation of the Turkish Cypriots.
The Enlargement Strategy Document emphasizes, on the one hand, the importance of the enlargement agenda for the EU, and on the other hand, it contains findings and assessments regarding the candidate and negotiating countries that are in the next enlargement wave, including Turkey.
We are pleased to note the fact that the constructive steps taken by Turkey in the foreign policy area are widely reflected in these two documents, and that active Turkish foreign policy is considered as an asset for the EU. The documents praise the initiatives which Turkey has launched particularly in the Balkans in the framework of its efforts towards strengthening regional peace and stability. We consider it positive that the documents refer to the role that Turkey and the EU can play together in strengthening energy security, the settlement of regional issues, and the prevention of ethnic and religious conflicts. The documents emphasize that Turkey’s bilateral relations are developing strongly with its neighbors and the countries within the enlargement process, as well as with the countries in the regions such as Africa and Latin America. It is stated that Turkey considerably contributes to the EU’s Common Foreign and Security Policy, which is a positive assessment.
We continue to fulfill our commitments in a determined manner towards our strategic goal of EU membership. Our Government will keep on achieving political and economic reforms in this direction. On the other hand, at the same time, we expect the EU to fulfill its commitments towards Turkey.
Turkey’s detailed views and assessments about the issues contained in the Progress Report will be communicated to the Commission as every year. As it is known, the report contains adopted legislation and implemented measures, and it does not take into account the legislative work under preparation. In this regard, the Commission will also be informed about the ongoing deliberations as regards new legislation and implementation measures to be adopted, so that progress in these areas will be included in the next progress reports.
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