Senior Spanish Diplomat Says Turkey still has to take steps for EU

Ankara Anatolia 2002 GMT 25 May 10


ISTANBUL (A.A) - The senior diplomat of Spain, holding the rotating presidency of the European Union (EU), in Turkey said on Tuesday that there was still progress Turkey had to make regarding Copenhagen criteria.

Spanish Ambassador to Turkey Joan Clos Matheu said that the EU appreciated Turkish government’s initiatives regarding a constitutional reform package.

However, there were many areas Turkey had to make progress regarding Copenhagen criteria although it had taken some positive steps so far, Matheu said during the Turkey-EU Joint Parliament Committee (JPC) meeting in Istanbul.

Matheu said the Spanish presidency of the EU was determined to make progress on Turkey’s EU membership process.

Broadening political and economic reforms in Turkey was important for spreading peace, democracy and stability in Europe, Matheu said. The EU has launched negotiations with Turkey on 12 chapters, but closed one of them temporarily.

Matheu underlined importance of reforms in Turkey for human rights and democratization, and expressed belief that Turkey would maintain that momentum.

The Spanish ambassador said Turkey had to take concrete measures, ensure same rights and freedoms for all its citizens, and rehabilitate situation in the Southeastern Anatolia Region.

Matheu said there should be more freedom for press, and there was need for more progress in religious freedom.

The ambassador appreciated the Foundations Law passed in 2008, but said no result had been reached regarding the law on properties of non-Muslim foundations.

Matheu said it would not be possible to open negotiations on some chapters unless a full settlement was reached on Cyprus, and a solution had to be found in Cyprus in the first place.

The EU also attached importance to Turkey’s good neighborly relations policy, Matheu said.

In that context, the EU did not want to see any tension or obstacles that would hamper good neighborly relations or prevent peaceful solution of disagreements, the ambassador said.

Matheu said the union wanted Greece and Turkey to better their relations, and defined recent visit of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and some Turkish ministers to Athens as a positive step.

Turkey was ready to fulfil more membership liabilities each passing day, Matheu said.

Matheu said the EU was appreciating Turkey’s progress in many areas, and underlined importance of Turkey’s efforts to adjust itself with the EU acquis.

Also, Matheu highlighted Turkey’s importance as an energy corridor and a part of Alliance of Civilizations.

Matheu said the Spanish presidency of the EU foresaw normalization of Turkish-Armenian relations and continuation of dialogue between the two countries.

The EU condemned terrorist attacks and violence in Turkish territories, and declared that it was in solidarity with the Turkish nation, Matheu said. Matheu also said the union respected Turkey’s fight against terrorism and its efforts to protect its own rights, but it was thinking that Turkey should respect human rights and fundamental freedoms, particularly right to organization and freedom of expression when doing that.

Also speaking in the meeting, Marc Pierini, the head of the Delegation of the European Commission in Turkey, said Turkey had an important place in EU’s global competitive power in industrial respect.

Pierini underlined importance of Turkey, which had made great progress in many areas including banking, insurance and telecom, for EU markets, and said Turkey had a very high dynamism.

The EC representative said Turkey had brought all its state institutions closer to EU standards, and underlined importance of EU’s cooperation with Turkish non-governmental organizations.

Pierini said the EU had provided resources to Turkey for development of small and medium scale enterprises, some part of which was allocated to the Southeast an d to projects to increase energy efficiency.

The EU was trying to introduce a visa system that would enable business trips and simplify reciprocal travels, Pierini also said.

The EU-Turkey JPC was established on the basis of the European Parliament’s resolution of 14 May 1965 and the resolutions of the Turkish Grand National Assembly and the Turkish Senate, adopted respectively on 22 June and 14 July 1965 and on the basis of a decision by the EEC-Turkey Association Council of 1965.

In accordance with the European Parliament’s resolution of 14 May 1965, it is the task of the JPC to deliberate on all matters relating to Turkey’s relations with the European Communities, in particular on the basis of the annual report of the Association Council1. The Committee has held discussions on the relations between the Community, later the Union, and Turkey.

After the entry into force of the Customs Union on 31 December 1995 it has also scrutinised its application and implementation.

The EU-Turkey JPC normally meets twice a year, alternately in Turkey and in one of the work places of the European Parliament. The chairmanship rotates between the delegations from one meeting to another.

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