EU commissioner welcomes democratization package during meeting with Minister Bağış
EU Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighborhood Policy Stefan Füle and Turkish EU Minister Egemen Bağış shake hands before a meeting in Brussels on Oct. 2. AA photoEU Commissioner for Enlargement Stefan Füle welcomed a democratization package announced earlier this week by the Turkish government during a meeting in Brussels with EU Minister Egemen Bağış, where the upcoming Progress Report was the burning topic.
"I have underlined the importance of continuous EU engagement in Turkey and of the EU remaining the benchmark for reform in Turkey, not the least to enhance respect for fundamental rights,” Füle said in a statement on Oct. 2 a few hours after the meeting.
“I have therefore welcomed the reference by Prime Minister Erdoğan earlier this week, when announcing the democratization package, to the guiding role of the EU in Turkey's reforms,” the commissioner added, stressing the importance of the implementation of the reforms.
EU members had given the green light for the formal launch of talks regarding Chapter 22 in Turkey’s accession negotiations. The opening of the chapter on regional policies – marking a first in the last two and a half years - was however delayed upon Germany’s request, after a crackdown on the Gezi Park demonstrations in June.
Füle emphasized the necessity for the negotiations to “regain momentum,” arguing that the opening of Chapter 22 will represent an important step in that matter.
Bağış publishes op-ed in Huffington Post
Meanwhile, Bağış has published an op-ed article on the new portal Huffington Post’s English and French website, in which he explained the government’s democratization package.
“As of 30 September 2013 [the date of package’s announcement], Turkey's democratic standards have climbed several levels. Turkey is now closer to achieving its objective of becoming an advanced democracy,” Bağış wrote.
“Turkey has once again proven that it continues its path towards top-grade EU standards and beyond. We believe that the package will accelerate Turkey's EU accession process. We believe that implementing the reform package will be as important as opening chapters in the EU negotiations,” Bağış added, also expressing the government’s expectations about the tone of the upcoming Progress report.
“We hope that the latest democracy package and the government's determination for reform will be reflected positively in the upcoming 2013 EU Progress Report. This is a very reasonable and understandable expectation.”
EU member states agreed to open the chapter on regional policy but will delay the formal launch of talks until after an Oct. 16 report by the European Commission on reforms and human rights in Turkey.