(Brussels, 19 April 2011)
The EU-Turkey Association Council held its 49th meeting on Tuesday, 19 April 2011. The meeting was chaired by Mr Ahmet DAVUTOĞLU, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Turkey and Head of the Turkish delegation. The Turkish delegation also included Mr Egemen BAĞIS, Minister for EU Affairs and Chief Negotiator. Mr János MARTONYI, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Hungary, led the European Union delegation on behalf of the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy. Mr Štefan FÜLE, Commissioner responsible for Enlargement, represented the European Commission. The Association Council meeting provided a timely opportunity to review EU-Turkey relations. In line with the Council conclusions of 14 December 2010, the EU noted progress made by Turkey in its preparations in the framework of the negotiating process. Overall, at this stage, out of 35 negotiating chapters, thirteen have been opened and one provisionally closed. As concerns chapters for which opening benchmarks have been set, the EU invited Turkey to address them accordingly, and to step up its efforts in meeting established conditions.
The EU reaffirmed that the pace of negotiations depends notably on Turkey’s progress in addressing opening and closing benchmarks, in meeting the requirements of the Negotiating Framework, and in respecting its contractual obligations towards the EU. In this context, the EU welcomed the opening of one negotiating chapter in 2010. Recalling the good progress made by Turkey towards the fulfilment of the opening benchmarks in the field of Competition Policy, the EU noted that further efforts were required to meet the opening benchmarks in this chapter, and in the chapters on Public procurement, and Social policy. The EU also recalled the crucial importance of implementing the priorities enshrined in the Accession Partnership.
Progress made by Turkey in meeting the Copenhagen political and economic criteria, as well as Turkey’s efforts towards alignment with the acquis communautaire, was also reviewed. The EU welcomed the constitutional reform package as a step in the right direction, which now should be implemented in line with European standards. The EU encouraged Turkey to further improve the observance of fundamental rights and freedoms in law and in practice, stressing in particular the areas of freedom of expression and freedom of religion where substantial progress is needed.
The EU noted that a number of positive steps have been registered on civilian oversight of the security forces and implementation of the judicial reform strategy, but further progress is needed. Furthermore, the EU underlined that further efforts towards fully meeting the Copenhagen criteria are also required, inter alia, as regards property rights, trade union rights, rights of persons belonging to minorities, women’s and children’s rights, antidiscrimination and gender equality, and the fight against torture and ill-treatment.
In line with the Council conclusions of 14 December 2010, the EU recalled Turkey’s obligation of full, non-discriminatory implementation of the Additional Protocol to the Association Agreement and the importance of progress in the normalisation of bilateral relations between Turkey and all Member States, including the Republic of Cyprus. Furthermore, the Association Council reviewed the state of bilateral relations. The EU recalled that with regard to the Association Agreement and the Customs Union, there remain a number of unfulfilled commitments by the Turkish side. Finally, the Association Council considered priorities for further work within the framework of the Association Agreement and the Customs Union.
Council of the European Union