EU, Turkey hold political dialogue

13:14, July 14, 2010      

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The European Union and Turkey held their first ministerial-level political dialogue meeting here on Tuesday while the EU reaffirmed its commitment for Turkish EU accession.

The EU integration was one of the main topics for discussion during the one-day closed-door meeting held in Ciragan Palace and was attended by some 40 officials from both sides.

Turkey is represented by a delegation headed by Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu and State Minister and chief EU negotiator Egemen Bagis.

The EU side was headed by High Representative for Foreign Affairs Catherine Ashton and EU Enlargement Commissioner Stefan Fuele.

Speaking at a news conference shortly after the meeting, Ashton said, Turkey was a candidate endeavoring for full membership, adding "we are progressing for the same targets and try to preserve peace, tranquility and peace in the region."

Ashton said the Middle East issue was also taken up at the meeting, noting the role that Turkey would play in the West Balkans and the Caucasus was expressed again.

EU's Commissioner for Enlargement and Neighborhood Policy Stefan Fuele said the meeting was important to show the synergy which Turkey and the EU have achieved.

Fuele said each of the EU member states preserved their belief in the negotiations carried out by Turkey towards full membership.

"We particularly focus on how pace of the accession talks could be increased. Nobody is pleased over the current momentum of the accession talks," he added.

However, Fuele said, there should not be any lack of energy and slowdown in implementation of the reforms.

"I particularly want to refer to the Constitution package. Constitutional changes will be put to referendum on Sept. 12. Constitutional package and reform progress on the right path. I would like to state that EU boards and the member states respond affirmatively to what have been done in this area. This constitutional package may constitute the basis of a pluralist political process," Fuele said.

"We wish to assure of our commitment to the full membership of Turkey," Fule said, adding that although "there was no doubt about our commitment, there was debate about the speed of progress."

Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said at the news conference, "a political dialogue mechanism has been formed as part of the institutional restructuring of the European Union following the Treaty of Lisbon."

"Today, we gathered in Istanbul to attend the first ministerial meeting of this mechanism. Today's gathering focused on three main topics. One of them was efforts to strengthen the political dialogue mechanism between Turkey and the union. There are many areas of common interest shared by Turkey and the European Union from the principle of zero problem with neighboring countries to cultural pluralism, from climate changes to the global financial crisis," he said.

He said, "As a country which politically targets to become a part of the European Union in future, we conveyed our views about institutional restructuring of the European Union."

The Turkish foreign minister said, "secondly, we discussed recent international and regional developments including the Middle East, the Balkans, Caucasus and Central Asia. There are important developments occurring in our adjacent areas. They can have significant impacts on Turkey and on the European Union. Turkey pursues a visional and active foreign policy. And we attach great importance to pursue our foreign policy in harmony with the European Union."

"The third topic on our agenda was political criteria in Turkey 's accession process including the constitutional reform, political reforms and Turkey's democratization process," he said.

Davutoglu noted that certain EU countries were blocking 18 out of 35 EU membership chapters for political reasons.

Turkey's chief negotiator Egemen Bagis said that it was important not to prolong negotiations any more, saying "it is time to address the difficult EU membership chapters, not just the symbolic ones."

Regarding the constitution, Bagis said Turkey was now ready with a constitution on par with EU standards.

He said Tuesday's meeting reaffirmed Turkey's EU integration process as the country's number-one strategic target.

The Turkish negotiator rejected political obstacles before Turkey's membership talks, saying that his country could not accept opening only one policy chapter in each rotating EU presidency term.

"The joint goal we all need to share should be completing the negotiations process with success," he said.

Turkey first applied for associate membership in the European Economic Community, a now defunct international organization formed during European countries' integration process in 1959. The EU agreed to launch accession talks with Turkey in October 2005, but progress was slow.

Countries hoping to join the bloc must fulfill EU requirements in 35 policy negotiating areas, or chapters. Ankara has so far formally opened 11 chapters, of which it has provisionally completed negotiations on just one, science and research.

Source: Xinhua

(Editor:张茜)

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