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Brussels, 22 June 2012
EU-Turkey: intensifying work on positive agenda
Remarks by Commissioner Štefan Füle at the press conference following the Association Council with Turkey.
We had a very extensive and friendly exchange of views covering the whole range of EU-Turkey relations.
I have underlined that political reforms remain at the core of the accession process and that the work launched on implementing the 2010 Constitutional reform package as well as the new process to reform the constitution are steps in the right direction.
Clearly, this process should be as inclusive and transparent as possible.
At the same time, together with the Danish Presidency I have underlined the quintessential importance of the issue of freedom of expression for democracy and for the EU. The voices of dissent and opposing points of view must be heard and respected if democracy is to function.
I have also highlighted the very positive steps related to visa and readmission. It is a big achievement that Council conclusions were adopted yesterday, clearly mentioning - for the first time - the perspective of visa liberalisation for Turkey. This, demonstrates clear commitment of the European Union to move forward on an issue which I know is so important to Turkey and its citizens. On the same day, the EU-Turkey readmission agreement has been initialled.
I know that my colleague Cecilia Malmström has been very committed to work together with both Turkey and the Member States on this first positive step. I hope what we will now be able to take the following steps as swiftly as possible, starting with the signature of the readmission agreement, adoption of the relevant action plan and ending of course with the ultimate objective of visa liberalisation for Turkish citizens.
As regards the accession negotiations, I can but stress that it is in everybody's interest to give the negotiations new momentum.
Therefore, the launch of the positive agenda, covering a broad range of areas of common interest with Turkey, and the work that has been undertaken in this context has been an important step forward and appreciated by everybody
I also thank my Turkish and Danish colleagues for turning what seemed to be a concept few months ago into a new framework of positive approach to our important relationship.
Last week in Stuttgart we put the latest piece to the mosaic of positive agenda this time on energy and identified 5 areas for cooperation.
Finally, I have also underlined that by respecting its contractual obligations towards the EU the implementation of the Additional Protocol would inject new life into the accession process. Several chapters could be opened and some even closed relatively quickly.