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European Commission


Ankara, 17 June 2014

Statement by Commissioner Štefan Füle to the media after meeting with the representatives of the Civil Society

Let me start by stressing EU's and my personal strong dismay and condemnation about recent atrocities in Iraq. I´d also like to express our solidarity and support for Turkey regarding the abduction of your citizens in Mosul.

When I was here last time, in November, we had a new momentum in the accession negotiations. Since then many things happened.

Remember what I said last time (and also before) - progress in accession negotiations and political reforms are two sides of the same coin. Over the past months there have been doubts cast over Turkey's commitment to European values and standards.

I just recall the corruption allegations, re-assignments of the investigators and judges, and in particular the rapid adoption of legislation which has not been consulted with the EU. All this seems to have moved Turkey further away from European standards.

I welcome the role played by the Constitutional Court and its commitment to safeguard rule of law and respect for fundamental rights and freedoms – be it with the decisions to cancel the ban on Twitter and YouTube and amend the controversial parts of the legislation on High Council of Prosecutors and Judges.

These actions of the Constitutional court contribute to what is now really needed: to bring the confidence back to the judiciary, putting an end to polarisation and politicisation of the society. And here all institutions have a role to play.

The accession negotiations are the central engine of our relations. But they can only move forward in parallel with convincing progress in both: the political reforms and on all Cyprus related issues. Any setbacks under those two issues will increase doubts about Turkey's commitment to the EU.

I have invited my Turkish colleagues to decisively engage with the EU on a comprehensive and credible reform process and to follow a close dialogue with the Commission in the area of the rule of law and fundamental rights. I have also encouraged Turkey to continue to support efforts in view of a comprehensive settlement in Cyprus.

Together with Minister Bozdağ and Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu we had a very important meeting of the working group on chapter 23. It was a good opportunity to determine the dynamics and direction of our joint work on the reforms of judiciary and on the fundamental rights and freedoms. I hope that the coming weeks will allow to translate today's discussions into concrete actions agreed by both sides.

With Minister Çavuşoğlu we joined a roundtable with Turkish civil society to discuss the EU-Turkey relations. This was also important meeting since the Civil Society is a crucial partner for us. It is an important stakeholder in the reform- and accession process and it needs to have conductive environment to play its role.

There is a chance to turn our positive agenda into tangible results and set the appropriate tone for the next Progress report. It will be the last Report of this Commission but it will serve as a basis for the new Commission to determine how to continue EU´s engagement with Turkey. I hope Turkey will provide us with the positive substance to achieve it.

For this, Turkey needs to commit to pursue the relevant reforms. Because the future of the accession process will not be determined by the results of the European parliament elections. It will be determined by Turkey's own performance.

Contacts :

Peter Stano (+32 2 295 74 84)

Anca Paduraru (+32 2 296 64 30)

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