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Brussels, 8 March 2001

Accession partnership with Turkey adopted

The Accession Partnership with Turkey has been formally adopted today by the European Union. This signifies a further important step in the implementation of the pre-accession strategy for Turkey. This strategy, as applied to all other candidate countries, became operational after Turkey's designation as a candidate country by the Helsinki European Council in December 1999.

Commissioner Günther Verheugen commented today that "the Accession Partnership is a roadmap for Turkey to comply with the criteria for accession to the European Union. Its adoption by the Union comes at a crucial moment in EU-Turkish relations. It is a clear sign of the Union's commitment towards Turkey. It will stimulate the much-needed reforms in Turkey not only in the political but also in the economic field. "

The purpose of the Accession Partnership is to set out, in a single framework, the priority areas which need to be adressed by Turkey on her way towards membership in the European Union. This document has now for the first time been established for Turkey, clearly indicating the initiatives to be taken in order to adopt and implement EU standards and legislation. It contains broad ranging priorities in the political and economic fields as well as for the harmonisation of legislation.

The priorities set by the Partnership in the economic field will encourage Turkey to further restructure its economy. The Partnership asks for swift implementation of the financial sector reform.

In the political field, the document outlines a number of fundamental and far-reaching political reforms that are needed in order to satisfy the Copenhagen political criteria. They include constitutional guarantees for freedom of opinion, assembly and religion, the abolition of the death penalty, the prevention of torture and guarantees for the cultural rights of all citizens irrespective of their origin.

The next step in the process is the adoption by Turkey of the so-called National Programme for the Adoption of the Acquis (NPAA) the 'acquis' being the existing body of Community law. In this document, the different priorities are to be elaborated by Turkey in more detail. It should contain further steps towards compliance with these priorities including timetables for the adoption of legislation and investment needed. It is expected that the Turkish Government will adopt this document shortly.

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