EU-Turkey: Discussing accession process and reforms
Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighbourhood Policy Štefan Füle visited Turkey on 7-8 November and this is how he summarised the visit at the press conference:
'Iyi günler – good afternoon. I had intense and productive talks in Istanbul and Ankara yesterday and today: meeting the President, members of the parliament, the government, representatives of political parties and civil society.
We have discussed the EU accession process, democratic reforms, fundamental rights, judiciary, new constitution and the role of civil society in the political life in Turkey. I strongly believe that a vibrant, engaged and strong civil society has a very important role to play in the reform process.
I am glad to be here just days after creating new momentum in negotiations by opening a new chapter after a long pause. And my message is: we need to make this momentum sustainable. We need more engagement with Turkey, not less.
This is best achieved in an active and credible accession process, where the EU remains the benchmark for Turkish reforms.
To make this happen we need to roll up our sleeves and work hard: Commission is ready to push for more EU engagement. And we expect Turkey to do its share: to continue with political reforms and to implement them.
All the reforms in the judicial and democratisation packages aim to strengthen democracy in line with EU standards. I believe that further democratic reforms, in line with these standards, will reinforce the rights of each citizen. More democracy in Turkey means more respect and recognition of the diversity of the Turkish society, it means more respect for private choices and lifestyles of citizens.
Another positive impulse in our relations will be the signature of the EU-Turkey readmission agreement and simultaneous launch of the visa dialogue – I hope before the end of the year. This will bring tangible result and benefits for the Turkish citizens.
Let me recall what I said last time, I was here: progress in accession negotiations and political reforms are two sides of the same coin. There is momentum now, created with the opening of Chapter 22. We have to strengthen this and maintain it so that accession talks get back on track and stay there - for the benefit of all of us.'