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Güncelleme: 27.06.2001
Genişlemeden Sorumlu AB Komisyoneri
Gunther Verhuegen'in demeci


It is for me a great pleasure to speak at today's meeting of the EU-Turkey Association Council. Since we last met in April 2000, there has been much progress to report in EU-Turkish relations. Turkey is now fully involved in the Enlargement process as a candidate country. The conditions for Turkey's accession to the EU are the same as for all candidate countries. Almost every day, EU and Turkish parliamentarians, officials, experts and business people are working in co-operation to carry out the necessary preparatory work. I would especially like to address current issues such as for example the economic reform, the latest developments in EU-Turkish relations, and the NPAA. Economic situation

We know that the Turkish crisis of February 2001 has caused considerable hardship not only for Turkish citizens, but also for many firms. The Commission welcomes the extensive reform programme, which the Turkish Government has successfully established after intensive negotiations with the international financial institutions. All parts of the new Turkish economic plan should be fully implemented to ensure a speedy economic recovery. At Gothenburg, the EU reiterated its continuing support for this economic programme. We are impressed by the progress made by Turkey in such a short period of time. I would like to mention a few examples: The banking law has been changed. This addresses one of the core elements in the economic reform programme. Another law, which also addresses this issue, was also passed. It concerns the independence of the Turkish Central Bank. Other reform initiatives that led to important changes are the liberalisation of the gas, electricity and telecom markets. The privatisation of Turkish Airlines as well as the reduction of subsidies in the tobacco sector and the privatisation of the sugar companies are also important decisions. These encouraging developments correspond to the goals of the economic part of the Accession Partnership and we urge the Turkish Government to continue this path. Recent Progress in EU/Turkey relations

The pre-accession strategy for Turkey includes political dialogue. Different meetings took place under the Swedish Presidency. Today's breakfast meeting provided another opportunity for us to exchange views. One of the main themes of that dialogue, the human rights situation, still gives considerable grounds for concern. Although both the Government and the Parliament have taken measures to improve the situation of the prisoners in the prisons, the hunger strikes have not ended. The Commission deeply regrets the deaths of 24 people in connection with the hunger strikes. Many more people are in a life threatening situation.

We believe that a way should be found to enter dialogue on the implementation of a new package of prison reforms with the representatives of the inmates, without in any way supporting the political views of those who are behind the hunger strikes. It would be important for the improvement of the Turkish image in the EU if this issue is rapidly solved. The UN-sponsored process on Cyprus should resume as soon as possible. Like all other parties, Turkey has an important role to play in ensuring positive results in the months ahead. Time is pressing. The accession negotiations with Cyprus are progressing rapidly. Turkey has repeatedly confirmed its commitment to support the efforts of the Secretary General of the United Nations and, we trust, this support will encourage all parties concerned to move towards a solution. Mr. Denktas should be encouraged to reengage in the UN process and should return to the negotiation table. We reiterate our views that in order to further build confidence, bi-communal projects should be implemented. The Commission will continue to arrange information meetings on the Community acquis in the northern part of Cyprus. The European Commission welcomes the recent improved relations between Greece and Turkey in various fields, which led to a number of confidence-building measures. These improvements should help to achieve the objectives outlined in the Helsinki conclusions.
NPAA

The Turkish National Programme for the Adoption of the Acquis provides a wide-ranging agenda of political and economical reforms. The Commission will provide a detailed analysis of the NPAA in the next Regular Report. Further implementation of the measures set out, particularly those in the political field, is essential. The debate in Turkey on constitutional reform is of particular importance in modernising the country in preparing for EU membership. We hope that a political consensus on these reforms will be found. Soon after Helsinki the process of preparation of the analytical examination of the acquis started. Eight subcommittees of the Association Committee were created to carry out this work. The second round of meetings will be completed next month. Altogether, this exercise has involved more than 400 officials from both sides coming from various ministries and public agencies covering a broad range of subjects. Work so far has allowed for a better and broader understanding of the situation in different policy sectors. The objectives and requirements of EU policies have been explained in detail. The overall state of alignment of Turkey's legislation is uneven, given that work has only recently begun in many sectors. The Commission recommends that Turkey should undertake a careful scheduling of the different steps needed, in the right order of priority. Attention should also be focused on ensuring sufficient administrative capacity and proper enforcement. Judicial reform is very important in this context. The Turkish authorities shall ensure that all legislative proposals conform to the Community acquis.

Following the conclusions of the Feira European Council, the EC will report to the Council in November on the preparation for the analytical examination of the acquis. Any recommendations will be part of the Commission's Enlargement Strategy Paper, which will accompany the Regular Reports in November. The European Commission has made a political commitment to doubling the funds for financial assistance to Turkey for the remaining part of the financial perspective. Turkey can be assured that this commitment will be honoured. The Commission has proposed that all assistance to Turkey be granted under a single financial Regulation, according to uniform procedures, in support of pre-accession priorities. The preparatory work is progressing as scheduled. Turkey needs to strengthen the management structures required to make proper use of our financial assistance. In this context, the Commission expects that the Turkish Government soon will take a decision to streamline the co-ordination of financial assistance. These new structures should be identical to those in other candidate countries, and need to be operational as soon as possible so that we can work together effectively. On the participation of Turkey in Community programmes, the Council has recently given a mandate for the Commission to negotiate a framework agreement with Turkey. This will simplify and accelerate the procedures needed for Turkey's participation in each programme. Such an agreement should be agreed with Turkey in the near future. Turkey will also soon gain full access to the TAIEX offices (technical assistance information exchange offices) in connection with the accession preparation. The current work within the field of Social Dialogue between the Commission and Turkey will be enhanced. Preparatory measures will soon begin for Turkey's participation in the education programmes Leonardo, Socrates and Youth. It is important that the National Agency, which is to co-ordinate the management of these programs, be set up soon. I am convinced that we, together with the Turkish authorities, will be able to make substantive progress on these issues in the coming weeks. Attention also needs to be given to the full implementation of the Association Agreement and the Customs Union. This is also confirmed by a Judgement made by the Court of First Instance. The remaining barriers to trade should be eliminated in accordance with a time schedule, which needs to be jointly agreed. A number of technical barriers to trade still exist within, for example, Norms and Standards and Intellectual Property Rights. These issues need to be solved as soon as possible. Implementing rules for competition are to be finalised as soon as possible. Turkey also needs to establish an independent State Aid control body. Mechanisms for mutual consultation will be strengthened. Turkey will thus be able to discuss issues concerning the functioning of the Customs Union and receive further clarifications on the EU position in this area. Turkey will participate in a number of additional technical committees.
* * *
Looking back on our achievements over recent months, my conclusion is that many of the new structures needed to implement the pre-accession strategy have been put in place. We should be proud of this. The challenge now is to concentrate our efforts on making further substantial advances, both on political and economic reforms and on alignment with the acquis. I am confident that by continuing to work together closely we can make further progress towards achieving our common goals.


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