EU-Turkish ties beset by mutual frustration: Füle

EU-Turkish ties beset by mutual frustration: Füle

İpek Yezdani ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News
EU-Turkish ties beset by mutual frustration: Füle

EU Minister Bağış (R) is seen with EU commissioner Füle in this file photo. AFP photo

Both the European Union and Turkey are increasingly unhappy about the current state of their mutual relations, according to the EU’s commissioner for enlargement, Stefan Füle.

“There is a great deal of frustration in the relationship on our side because we had hoped the reform process that your people want and would benefit from, have been slower than we hoped,” Füle said at the “Turkey-EU: Common Interests Revisited” conference, which was held in Istanbul on Nov. 17 and 18.

“But we should not become hostage to that frustration. Turkey and the EU need each other more and more everyday,” Füle said.

Füle also said they were concerned about the recent arrest of Turkish intellectuals and the state of the press freedom in Turkey.

“The anti-terror law in the penal code and legislative framework is not adequate to protect the freedom of expression in Turkey. Also, the interpretation by prosecutors and judges in the European Convention of Human Rights on the issue of media freedom is too restrictive,” Füle told journalists during a press conference on the sidelines of the conference.

Füle said the European Commission would actively take part in remedying the situation in Turkey.

“We are in regular contact with the Secretary General of the Council of Europe on this issue to help Turkish authorities, especially the justice minister, on a series of steps – including amending the anti-terrorist act and penal code – to address the shortcomings of that legislative framework. We will be part of this program and we will finance it,” Füle said.

Füle also said the EU was investing 4.8 million euros in helping Turkey enact reforms between 2007 and 2013. “I am not talking about loans, I am talking about EU money each and every year being committed to reform in Turkey. I hope and trust all this money will be used efficiently for the benefit of the Turkish people,” he said.

EU Minister Egemen Bağış, however, expressed worries about the current state of European democracy. “Some European countries who advised us regarding democracy in the past are now governed by technocrats instead of elected politicians; this makes all of us concerned about their democracy,” he said.

Bağış also criticized the EU decision-making system. “It should not be acceptable in democracy that two countries are making the decisions for 27 countries. The EU should also review its decision-making mechanisms,” Bağış said.