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Brussels, 17 May 2012

Remarks by Commissioner Füle after the first working group on chapter 23 with Turkey

''It was a pleasure to open the concrete work on the positive agenda and it is not a coincidence that we start with the chapter 23 on judiciary and fundamental rights.

This chapter is very important since it covers judiciary and fundamental rights and as such relates directly to constitutional provisions and touches upon the upcoming constitutional reform.

Furthermore it relates to the essence of the European values and principles on which our societies are built. Reforms and progress in this area will bring tangible results for all citizens of Turkey.

I have mentioned on a number of occasions that the positive agenda is not meant to replace the accession process but to support it. I strongly believe that if we do all we can, results will follow. This will benefit first and foremost the citizens of Turkey and will contribute to a lasting improvement of this country's perception in our Member States.

Let me in this context recall that a large number of political reforms is already underway or foreseen in the near future by the Turkish government.

This is very much due to the efforts and determination of Minister Ergin and his colleagues.

I am pleased that today's meeting showed again the high level of ambition of the minister for future reforms, both on fundamental rights and the judiciary. I also hope that political support is also invested in the strengthening of the legislative framework to fight corruption and its implementation.

I have in particular welcomed the intention to table the 4th judicial reform package, which foresees further reforms in the area of freedom of expression and the media. This package offers an excellent opportunity to address the outstanding core concerns as regards freedom of expression, the rights to liberty and security, and to a fair trial.'

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