Progress report ‘certificate’ of Turkey’s determination for reforms: EU minister
ANKARA – Anadolu Agency
EU Minister Egemen Bağış seen during a press conference on the 2011 progress report. Bağış’s statement is the government’s first official reaction to this year’s report, as Ankara decided not to make any immediate comments to protest Brussels’ decision to release the document during the Feast of the Sacrifice. DAILY NEWS photo, Emrah GÜREL
The European Union’s annual progress report published released Oct. 16 is a “certificate of Turkey’s determination to enact reforms" despite the criticisms against Ankara, EU Minister Egemen Bağış said in a written statement today.
“The reforms realized by Turkey are recognized and appreciated by the EU,” Bağış said, stressing that Turkey had never been closer to EU standards.
“The stage where Turkey has reached today in terms of democratization, human rights and economic development is without any dispute, the closest to the EU standards,” Bağış said in the statement published on the ministry's website.
The EU Ministry's statement is the government’s first official reaction to this year’s report, as Ankara decided not to make any immediate comments to protest Brussels’ decision to release the document during the Feast of the Sacrifice.
The statement said the government had taken note of the “constructive and reasonable criticisms” and welcomed the fact that the latest democratization package was well received by the commission.
However, he brushed aside criticisms regarding the government’s response to the Gezi protests, which denounced the "use of excessive force.” “It is necessary to emphasize that efforts attempting against the peace of our nation by means of violence and illegal methods will never be seen as a struggle for rights,” the statement said.
The report praised President Abdullah Gül’s “conciliatory role” in a veiled criticism of the prime minister’s harsh tone against the protest.
But the statement said Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan had also adopted a conciliatory role during Justice and Development Party (AKP) rule. “Both our president and prime minister, alongside every institution of our state, have assumed a ‘conciliatory’ role for the materialization of democratic demands in the last 11 years,” Bağış said.
The statement also stressed that if progress reports of EU members were to be published, Turkey would be in a better position than many countries.
“It is obvious that if the progress reports of EU members were to be published, there would have been many areas where they need to make reforms. Many countries will fall behind compared to Turkey in terms of the pace and of reforms and determination,” the ministry’s statement said.
It also accused some EU members for perpetuating the deadlock in the accession process, calling for the opening of the critical 23rd chapter on judiciary and fundamental rights and the 24th chapter titled “justice, freedom and security.”
Regarding Cyprus, Bağış said Turkey would not try to avoid a solution and expected reciprocity for the “bold steps” made.
Following the release of the report, Enlargement Commissioner Stefan Füle also called for “putting Turkey's accession process on track.” He added that the Gezi criticisms showed that instead of a disengagement, the EU needed to step up the accession process, especially on critical chapters that could strengthen freedom of expression and freedom of assembly.
AKP plays the deaf on Gezi, ODTÜ construction raid show: CHP
The main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) criticized Bağış’s response to the progress report, adding that the night-time raid organized by the Ankara Metropolitan Municipality to cut down trees for a controversial road project crossing the land of the Middle Eastern Technical University (ODTÜ) demonstrated that there was no change in the government’s stance.
“There is a dialogue of the deaf between the EU and the AKP, which is quite dire. Because it shows that the AKP will persist in its stubbornness against society and the construction raid at ODTÜ shows exactly that,” CHP Ankara deputy Gülsün Bilgehan said in a written statement.
Bilgehan also criticized the refusal from the government to comment on the report during the Feast of the Sacrifice holiday, which lasted from Oct. 15 to 18. “Sliding over the report on the pretext of bayram by deceiving the public is quite subtle,” Bilgehan said.