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Statement by Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu minister for EU affairs and Chief Negotiator

ON THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT RESOLUTION ON TURKEY 2013 PROGRESS REPORT

Turkish Government has always taken into consideration the objective and fair views and evaluations of the members of the EP who represent the people of Europe.

We welcome the reiterated support of the EP for Turkey’s accession process. It is noteworthy that the EP calls on the Council to deliver the benchmarks for the opening of Chapter 23 (Judiciary and Fundamental Rights) and Chapter 24 (Justice, Freedom and Security) to Turkey and emphasizes the importance of opening Chapter 15 (Energy) and Chapter 19 (Social Policy and Employment) to negotiations. However, we expect prompt action in accordance with these calls.

The Resolution underlines Turkey’s strategic position and importance as a regional actor and noting Turkey’s ongoing humanitarian aid to Syrians, it calls for the development of a joint strategic vision between the EU and Turkey regarding the situation in Syria. It is appreciated that stressing the importance of the signing of the Readmission Agreement, the Resolution urges EU to provide full technical and financial support to Turkey for its implementation.

We welcome the reference in the Resolution to the Action Plan to Prevent Violations of the European Convention on Human Rights adopted by the Government on 1 March 2014. With the adoption of the Action Plan, another important requirement of Chapter 23 (Judiciary and Fundamental Rights) was fulfilled demonstrating the Government’s determination for reforms even in the politically blocked chapters.

However, it is regrettable that the Resolution fails to address a number of significant reforms carried out in the areas of judiciary and fundamental rights and freedoms.

Furthermore, it is a clear example of the prejudiced approach to Turkey that amendments to the laws on the High Council of Judges and Prosecutors and the Internet, which are in fact parallel to the legislation in many EU member states, have been criticized without observing any implications of their implementation.

The Resolution does not address the recent Fifth Judicial Reform Package which abolished the regional serious crimes courts, also known as specially authorized courts, and introduced important amendments to the criminal legislation expanding fundamental rights and freedoms. It also does not sufficiently refer to the law, adopted for the implementation of the Democratisation Package announced by the Prime Minister, which enhances our standards of democracy by expanding the scope of state aid to the political parties, allowing political campaigning in different languages and dialects for elections, introducing arrangements on hate crimes, allowing education in different languages and dialects in private schools and guaranteeing respect for lifestyles.

Turkish Government will remain committed to the reform agenda and the EU process. It is vital that the EU supports this determination and opens the politically blocked chapters for the smooth progress in the negotiation process. So long as these chapters remain blocked, our people will continue to doubt the sincerity and impartiality of the related criticism.

All efforts to play politics with Turkey-EU relations by diverting it from its concrete and legal framework and support to these by the EU undermine the credibility of the EU damaging the enthusiasm in our nation for the membership.

In line with the objective of the EU membership, we will continue the reforms to provide our citizens with a high standard of living. In this process, dialogue and cooperation with the EU will remain among our top priorities.

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