Positive agenda a bridge towards accession negotiations with Turkey
Ankara (17th May) - The new positive agenda intended to bring fresh dynamics into the EU-Turkey relations was launched by Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighbourhood Policy Štefan Füle and the Turkish Minister for European Affairs and Chief EU negotiatior Egemen Bağış in Ankara on Thursday. The aim of this process is to keep the accession process of Turkey going and put it back on track after a period of stagnation. "The positive agenda is a bridge but not above or around the accession negotiations. It is a brigde leading towards them," Commissioner Füle stated at the opening event for the launch of the positive agenda in the Ministry for EU Affairs.
"It is not just an isolated element in the relationship between Turkey and the EU. It is an opportunity to establish the framework to integrate a number of key aspects of our relationship and to aproach them in positive spirit based on dialogue and openness." (see Commissioner´s remarks at the press conference) [105 KB]
The positive agenda endorsed by the EU Member States and by Turkey is not to replace the accession negotiations but to complement it and to strenghten the reform process in Turkey. The most important areas covered by the positive agenda are: legislative alignment, enhanced energy cooperation, visa, mobility and migration, Customs Union, foreign policy, political reforms, fight against terrorism and increased participation in people-to-people programmes. The concrete work started immediately after the offcial launch with the first working group on Judiciary and Fundamental rights (Remarks by Commissioner Füle after the first working group on chapter 23 with Turkey [9 KB] ) co-chaired by Commissioner Füle and Minister of Justice Sadullah Ergin as well as Minister Bağış in the Ministry of Justice. "This is perhaps the most critical chapter since the issues it covers relate to the essence of the European values and principles upon which the EU is funded. It also covers an area of immediate impact on citizens´ lives and where they can feel the results most immediately," Commissioner Füle stated. (Speech at the chapter 23 Kick-Off Meeting with Turkey [90 KB] ).
During his visit to Ankara Commissioner Füle also met with Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Minister of Foreign Affairs Ahmet Davutoğlu, leader of the opposition and Chairman of the CHP Kemal Kiliçdaroğlu, members of the parliamentary committee for Harmonisation and Justice and Human Rights and several dozens representatives of the civil society.
With Prime Minister Erdoğan, Commissioner Füle spoke, apart from the positive agenda, more generally about enlargement policy and the situation in the European Union whereby they agreed that the enlargement policy should not become victim of the current problems within the European Union.
With MinisterDavutoğlu, Commissioner Füle discussed notably the state of play of visa issues and the readmission agreement.
In his discussion with the members of Parliament Commissioner Füle underlined the crucial role the Parliament is playing in the accession process and in the positive agenda since it initiates and approves legislation necessary to align the Turkish norms with the EU acquis. He particulary stressed the need to continue the work on the new constitution, to implement further reforms to improve the human rights situation. At the meeting with representatives from civil society, Commissioner Füle explained that the positive agenda offers the opportunity to engage them as well in the reform and accession process: "It will enhance and accelerate the accession process and create a platform for our interaction not only with the official authorities but also with civil society and other important stakeholders in Turkey." He also repeated his support and appreciation of the efforts of Turkish civil society.