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Brussels, 27 May 2013
Remarks by Štefan Füle, Commissioner for Enlargement and Neighbourhood Policy to the press following the EU-Turkey Association Council
''We had a very good, open and interactive exchange of views on a whole range of issues with all of us aware of the importance of 2013 for strengthening the relationship between the EU and Turkey.
I have welcomed the current momentum in the accession negotiations. The positive agenda has played an important role in this, and I look forward to continue our common work on its implementation in order to keep the positive momentum in the accession negotiations.
As a result there is a chance for opening of at least one chapter during the Irish Presidency (22-regional policy – it would be the first chapter opened after three years.)
We have encouraged Turkey to sustain this momentum, by taking steps towards meeting the opening benchmarks on other chapters, such as the chapter 19 on social policy and employment. But there is responsibility for both sides: Turkey and EU Member States need to make the momentum sustainable and in this context I recalled the GAC conclusions from December that say: ''It is in the interest of both sides that the negotiations regain momentum.''
A key for adding a new quality to our relations with direct impact on citizens is also to start as soon as possible our visa dialogue leading ultimately to visa free travel between the EU and Turkey. I have again encouraged Turkey to sign the readmission agreement without delay, which would allow the dialogue on this very important issue to start.
I have welcomed recent reforms, notably the adoption of the 4th judicial reform package: an important milestone on the way to full respect for fundamental rights.
Swift implementation of the package will allow properly addressing issues still restricting fundamental rights in practice and further efforts are still needed.
Finally, I have also underlined that 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. In relation to this we could turn this ''one flower policy'' Minister Davutoğlu was mentioning in the context of the possibility to open one chapter soon, into a flourishing garden of several chapters. ''